US puts India on 20 major illicit drug producers list | world | Hindustan Times
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US puts India on 20 major illicit drug producers list

The US has placed India and 19 other nations on a list of major drug transit or major illicit drug producing countries.

world Updated: Sep 17, 2008 14:21 IST

The US has placed India and 19 other nations on a list of major drug transit or major illicit drug producing countries while noting New Delhi's strong track record of regulating its licit opium production.

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Burma also figured among the countries so identified for fiscal year 2009 in a report sent to Congress on Tuesday by President George Bush under Foreign Relations Authorisation Act 2003.

"A country's presence on the Majors List is not necessarily an adverse reflection of its government's counter-narcotics efforts or level of cooperation with the United States," Bush said in a memorandum for the Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice asking her to send the report to Congress.

Other nations identified in the presidential determinations were: The Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela.

However only, Bolivia, Burma, and Venezuela were identified as countries that have failed demonstrably during the last 12 months to adhere to their obligations under international counter-narcotics agreements and take the measures required under US law.

In the case of India, the presidential determination noted that the government "maintains a strong track record of regulating, monitoring, and curbing its licit opium production and distribution process."

However, the US continues to be concerned about illicit opium poppy production in certain areas of the country, such as West Bengal and the state of Uttaranchal along the India-China Border, previously thought to be free of such cultivation, it said.

Noting that during the past year India has destroyed substantial areas of illicit poppy cultivation, the presidential memo said "The Indian Government must also continue to investigate cases of large, illicit poppy production and accordingly bring perpetrators to trial."

The US, along with other foreign governments and international organisations, has a good working relationship with India to interdict the flow of narcotics being smuggled across India's borders.

The memo noted that India has introduced robust, high-tech methods to control cultivation by licensed opium farmers. "In this sense, India must continue to refine its control measures to guard against the continuing problem of diversion of licit opium crops, grown for the production of pharmaceutical products, to illegal markets," it said.

In the case of Afghanistan, the memo said under the leadership of President Hamid Karzai, Kabul has made some progress in combating narcotics.

"However, drug trafficking remains a serious threat to the future of Afghanistan, contributing to widespread public corruption, damaging legitimate economic growth, and fuelling violence and insurgency."

A successful counter-narcotics strategy in Afghanistan hinges on maintaining security, building public capacity, attaining local support, and actively pursuing our joint counter-narcotics strategy, it added.

The memo gave no details about Pakistan's track record in controlling the illicit drug production or trade.