UPDATE 1-Mexico president backs decision not to charge ex-defense minister
(Adds quotes from Mexico's president and context)
MONTERREY, Mexico, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday his government supported a decision by his attorney general not to charge ex-Defense Minister General Salvador Cienfuegos, despite U.S. accusations he collaborated with drug traffickers.
"It's a decision the attorney general's office makes, but one that the government I represent supports," said Lopez Obrador in his regular morning news conference.
Cienfuegos, a member of former President Enrique Peña Nieto's government, was arrested in October at Los Angeles international airport and accused by U.S. prosecutors of collaborating with a powerful Mexican drug cartel.
But the Mexican attorney general office's concluded Thursday that Cienfuegos "never had any encounters with members of the criminal organization investigated by U.S. authorities, nor did he maintain any communication with them, or carry out acts tending to protect or help said individuals." (Reporting by Laura Gottesdiener and Raul Cortes)
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