Jan. 31 — WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush said on Friday he was troubled that Canada had become a source of potent marijuana and a key ingredient to the illegal drug methamphetamine for the United States.
"The president cited his concern that Canada is a primary source of pseudoephedrine, which is exported to the United States and used in clandestine drug laboratories to make methamphetamine, and that Canada is an increasing source of high potency marijuana," the White House said.
In Ottawa, the federal minister in charge of law enforcement said Canadian police shared U.S. concerns and had already taken "some fairly major steps" to tackle the organized crime gangs that run much of the marijuana trade.
Bush outlined his concerns in an annual report in which he graded the co-operation of countries on fighting illegal drugs. It concluded that Guatemala, Haiti and Myanmar are not doing enough to crack down on drug production and trafficking.
The report, summarized by the White House, also cited an "alarming increase" in the quantity of the illegal drug ecstasy entering the United States, significant amounts of which it said were made in the Netherlands.
Canada and the Netherlands were not cited as countries failing to co-operate.
"The president expressed his desire to continue to work closely in a continuing partnership with the governments of the Netherlands and Canada to address these issues," the White House said.
Canadian Solicitor-General Wayne Easter, expressing satisfaction that Bush had praised the co-operation between the countries' law enforcement agencies, said Ottawa was moving to cut off the trade in marijuana and pseudoephedrine. "We've said a number of times we see this as a problem ourselves. We have developed new regulations, we have put more money into (policing) organized crime...we're trying to get to the sources of the problem," he told Reuters.
The U.S. report said Guatemala, Haiti and Myanmar had "failed demonstrably" to meet their international obligations to combat drugs and to take steps demanded by the United States.
But Bush immediately suspended the penalties -- chiefly the loss of most U.S. aid -- for Guatemala and Haiti on the grounds of U.S. national interest.
Myanmar's government, harshly criticized by Washington for human rights abuses and for mismanaging the East Asian nation's economy, remains subject to the penalties.
Bush identified the major drug-transit or drug-producing countries as Afghanistan, the Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Thailand, Venezuela, and Vietnam.
Source: Reuters 31 January 2003Copyright 2003 Reuters News Service.