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Annual US government report on the global drug trade

Bush assails Venezuela, Myanmar, over drugs. Expresses deep concerns about Afghanistan and Bolivia

Yahoo News, September 18, 2006

NEW YORK (AFP) - The United States accused Venezuela and Burma of having "failed demonstrably" to fight illegal drugs and expressed deep concerns about failings in Afghanistan and Bolivia.

The White House, releasing the findings of the annual US government report on the global drug trade, warned that the drug trade and "widespread public corruption" could threaten global aid to the fledgling government in Kabul.

"We are concerned that failure to act decisively now could undermine security, compromise democratic legitimacy, and imperil international support for vital assistance," spokesman Tony Snow said in a statement.

"The government at all levels must be held accountable to deter and eradicate poppy cultivation; remove and prosecute corrupt officials; and investigate, prosecute, or extradite narcotraffickers and those financing their activities," he said.

The report also warned of a "decline in Bolivian counternarcotics cooperation since October 2005" and expressed concern about the pace of eradication of coca crops, the raw material for cocaine.

While praising Bolivia for being "supportive of interdiction initiatives" and citing "positive results in seizing cocaine and decommissioning rustic labs," the White House called on Bolivia to "refocus its efforts on eliminating excess coca" and promised a fresh evaluation within six months.

In the report, US

President George W. Bush identified Afghanistan, The Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Myanmar, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela as major drug-transit or major illicit drug-producing countries.

 

The so-called certification process requires the president to weigh country performances on issues including fighting illicit cultivations, promoting interdiction, extraditing drug traffickers, as well as cutting drug exports.

"A country's presence on the Majors List is not necessarily an adverse reflection of its government's counternarcotics efforts or level of cooperation with the United States," the White House said.

Bush specifically targeted Myanmar and Venezuela as having "failed demonstrably" over the past year to meet their obligations under international counternarcotics agreements.

But he decided to maintain US programs meant to bolster Venezuela's democratic institutions, community development, and political party system, Snow said in a statement.

The report praised Canada for curbing the diversion of chemicals used to produce methamphetamine, and for seizing laboratories that make the drug ecstasy, and said the main concern was "the continuing large-scale production of high-potency, indoor-grown marijuana for export to the United States."

Bush said Ecuador had "made considerable progress" in battling drug exports to the United States but warned of a "dramatic increase" in cocaine shipments to the United States using Ecuadoran-flagged ships and signs of increased armed group activities on Ecuador's border with Colombia.

The US president urged the new government in Haiti "to strengthen and accelerate" efforts to rebuild and reform its law enforcement and courts and work closely with Washington.

Bush said Nigeria had taken "substantive steps" to battle corruption but warned that it remained "a major challenge," and urged Abuja to improve government programs to battle illegal drugs.

Bush said there had been no drug seizures or arrests in connection to

North Korea since 2004 but said Washington was still concerned about "state-directed criminal activity" there.

"The United States government has made clear to the DPRK (North Korea) that an end to all involvement in criminal activity is a necessary prerequisite to entry into the international community," the White House said.