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Myanmar Criticizes US Anti-Drug Report

FILE - Villagers harvest opium in a field in Burma's Shan state.
FILE - Villagers harvest opium in a field in Burma's Shan state.

Myanmar is criticizing a U.S. anti-drug reports that accuses the Southeast Asian nation of failing to meet its international obligations on combating narcotics trafficking.

The report, sent to Congress Tuesday, singles out Myanmar, Bolivia and Venezuela as having failed in their efforts to combat illegal narcotics.

But the head of Myanmar's Anti-Narcotic Unit, Police Brigadier General Kyaw Win, told VOA Burmese that his country is making its best effort.

“It's totally wrong,” he said. “The production might have increased according to data, but we totally reject the report that says we failed to meet international counter-narcotics cooperation and obligation and efforts.”

The U.S. report suggests the Myanmar government needs to dedicate adequate resources to counter narcotics efforts, reduce illegal crops, and increase efforts to maintain cease-fires with ethnic minorities, which would allow for increased access to areas with high drug cultivation, trafficking and use.

Kyaw Win admitted local militia under the command of ethnic rebels may contribute to the country’s drug problem.

“Yes, it's possible that local militias in ethnic minority areas are involved in the narcotic business, due to the far-reaching of central government administration," said Win.

The U.S. State Department report says Myanmar is the world's second largest source of opium, but Washington will grant the country a waiver against sanctions for the third consecutive year because of the country’s interest in improving its international drug control cooperation.

“In September, the U.S. and Burmese governments signed a letter of agreement to enhance cooperation in the fight against illicit drugs and transnational crime and to support the development of law enforcement capacity and the rule of law,” the report said.

This year, the U.S is supporting expanded counter-narcotics programming for Myanmar, including a poppy-cultivation survey carried out by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), interdiction training and drug demand reduction activities.

Jennifer Smith contributed to this report, which was produced in collaboration with the VOA Burmese service.