US sticks by Burma despite sharp rise in drug production

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The official pointed out that U.S.-Burma cooperation on the issue has been limited in recent years because of sanctions imposed after a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in 1988. The recent improvement in ties bodes well for efforts to weaken the drug trade, he said. 

“We think conditions now do permit increased cooperation,” he said, “and so progress will be made.”

The official said the State Department is talking to other agencies and Congress on ways to expand its counternarcotics efforts in Burma.

The U.N.'s drug office has also called for increased international cooperation. 

“The opium numbers continue to head in the wrong direction,”  said Gary Lewis, the office's regional representative for East Asia and the Pacific. “However we have seen more progress on responding to the root causes of opium cultivation in the past year than we have in the past decade. The international community must now ask 'how can we help?' and provide resources toward a solution.”