US slams 'failed' anti-drug efforts in Burma

Sept 16, 2009 (DVB), Burma is one of three countries that have 'failed demonstrably' to stem the production and trade in illegal drugs over the past year, the United States announced yesterday.

Twenty countries have been recognized as "major drug-transit or drug-producing countries" by the US, under its Foreign Relations Authorization Act (FAA).

Burma remains alongside Venezuela and Bolivia on the blacklist of countries that are failing to tackle the drugs trade.

The three countries were emphasized in the annual report to have "'failed demonstrably' during the last 12 months to adhere to international counternarcotic agreements and take counternarcotic measures set forth in US law," State Department spokesperson Ian Kelly said.

President Barrack Obama has, however, issued Bolivia and Venezuela with a "national interest waiver" allowing the US to "continue to support specific programs to benefit the Bolivian and Venezuelan people".

US-led drug eradication campaigns in Central and South America have come under fire in recent weeks, with several governments backing away from cooperation in the so-called 'War on Drugs'.

In contrast, the US has had little active involvement in Burma's anti-drug efforts, instead relying on verbal pressure to coerce the ruling junta.

Burma remains the world's second largest producer of opium after Afghanistan, although levels have declined in the past decade.

A United Nations report released in June measured Burma's annual opium production levels at around 410 metric tons.

Production of synthetic drugs, such as methamphetamine, has increased in conjunction with a global rise in the consumption of synthetic drugs.

This year has seen several huge drugs hauls, many of which occurred at crossing points on Burma's border with Thailand.

Burmese state-run media today announced that more than five million amphetamine pills were found in a cave near to a town on the Burma-China border.

Reporting by Francis Wade

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