(Image source from: Politico)
The United States President Donald Trump has identified India along with 21 other countries as among the major illegal drug transit or producing nations.
Including India, other Asian countries identified as major drug transit or illicit drug producing countries are Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Myanmar.
The Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Venezuela, and Peru are other countries listed in the group, as per a presidential finding.
"A country's presence on the foregoing list is not necessarily a reflection of its government's counternarcotics efforts or level of cooperation with the United States," Trump said.
He further said the reasons countries are placed on the list is the combination of geographic, commercial, and economic factors that allow drugs to transit or be produced, even if a government has engaged in robust and diligent narcotics control measures.
At the same time, Trump designated Bolivia and Venezuela as countries that have failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to follow to their obligations under international counter-narcotics agreements.
He also determined that support for programmes to aid the promotion of democracy in Venezuela are critical to the national interests of the U.S.
Asserting that combatting the ongoing U.S. opioid epidemic is one of his Administration’s most urgent priorities, Trump said his government has dedicated nearly $4 billion in additional funding to confront this national crisis.
The Trump Administration is committed to addressing all factors fueling the drug crisis, which is annihilating communities across America, including steps to curb over-prescription, improve public education programs to prevent illicit drug use before it begins, expand access to treatment and recovery programs, and to strengthening domestic drug enforcement at the borders, he said.
"Alongside these massive and historic United States efforts, I expect the governments of countries where illicit drugs originate and through which they transit to similarly strengthen their commitments to reduce dangerous drug production and trafficking," Trump said.
In his presidential determination, Trump expressed his profound concerns that illicit drug crops have expanded over successive years in Mexico, Colombia, and Afghanistan, and are now at record levels.
Drug trafficking and producing in these three countries directly affect the U.S. national interests and the health and safety of American citizens, he said.
"Heroin originating from Mexico and cocaine from Colombia are claiming thousands of lives annually in the United States. Afghanistan's illicit opium economy promotes corruption, funds the Taliban, and undermines that country's security, which thousands of United States servicemen and women help defend," Trump said.
Despite the endeavors of security forces and law enforcement, these countries are falling behind in the combat to eliminate illegal crops and cut down drug production and trafficking, he rued.
As such, Trump said that these governments must redouble their efforts to rise to the challenge posed by the criminal organizations producing and trafficking these drugs, and achieve greater progress over the coming year in stopping and reversing illicit drug production and trafficking.
The U.S. will continue its strong support for international efforts against drug production and trafficking, as well as to strengthen prevention and treatment efforts in the United States, he added.
By Sowmya Sangam