U.S. senators Saturday encouraged Mexico to continue efforts to combat drug trafficking and modernize the economy during bilateral talks on debt, drugs and democracy.

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., praised President Carlos Salinas de Gortari's anti-drug campaign. In return, he said, the United States would support Mexico's efforts to cut payments on its $107 billion foreign debt."It is a seamless garment when you start talking about confidence in a government," Dodd said in an interview.

On Friday, the opening day of the 28th annual meeting between Mexican and U.S. lawmakers, Dodd read a letter signed by 68 U.S. senators praising the Mexican president for his commitment to fight drug trafficking.

The U.S. Senate votes in May over whether Mexico is adequately fighting the illicit narcotics trade. Both Dodd and Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, said they expected a positive vote.

Dodd said many U.S. lawmakers were impressed with Salinas' efforts to streamline the Mexican economy and liberalize its foreign trade.

"He is moving at a pace that's impressive," Dodd said.

Gramm was more skeptical.

"I want to be shown. I've heard all the good words before," he said.

Mexico is negotiating with foreign creditors to slice its annual debt servicing bill by at least $7 billion. The country paid $9 billion in interest and $5 billion in principal in 1988 and servicing will reach an $16 billion this year.