MEXICO CITY (AFP) – Senior US and Mexican officials will meet on Friday to discuss joint efforts to halt the increasingly brutal cross-border drug trade, according to Mexico's foreign ministry.

The Mexican delegation will be lead by Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa, an official told AFP late Monday.

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A previous meeting held in March of last year included US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defence Robert Gates and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Some 34,600 people have been killed since Mexico launched a massive military assault on powerful drug cartels in 2006.

Washington has promised training and equipment to Mexico's security forces under the three-year, $1.3-billion Merida Initiative to tackle organized crime.