More than 42,000 people have been killed in Mexico's drug wars since 2006 [Reuters]

Rick Perry, the governor of Texas and one of the leading contenders for the Republican Party US presidential nomination, has said that he is open to sending American troops to Mexico to help combat drug cartels.

At a reception on Saturday in New Hampshire, Perry likened the situation in Mexico to Colombia, where the government accepted American military support in battling drug traffickers.

"The way that we were able to stop the drug cartels in Colombia was with a co-ordinated effort," Perry said.

"It may require our military in Mexico working in concert with them to kill these drug cartels and to keep them off of our border and to destroy their networks," he continued.

"I don't know all the scenarios that are out there, but I think it is very important that we work with them to keep that country from failing."

The US military has advisers in Colombia who are involved mainly in training, logistical support and intelligence back-up for the Colombian armed forces as they fight cocaine traffickers and armed leftist groups.

But there are no US armed forces in Mexico fighting the drug war and Mexico strongly opposes any US military involvement in its territory, although it has received more than $1bn in US aid to take on the cartels.

More than 42,000 people have been killed in Mexico's drug feuds since President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006.

Perry has often called for more National Guard troops to protect the Mexican border and stem the flow of illegal immigration, but Saturday's comments went further.

They indicated that he is open to deepening America's military involvement across the border and enacting a more aggressive policy on drugs.

Source: Agencies