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British Foreign Secretary Condemns Burma for Role in Drug Trade


September-October 1997

British foreign secretary Robin Cook condemned the Burmese government on September 1 for its role in the drug trade, its abuse of human rights and repression of democracy. Cook stated that Burmese representatives would not be admitted to the meeting of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in London next April (Reuters, "UK Bars Burma From Meeting, Citing Drugs," September 2, 1997).

According to Mr. Cook, "Burma is the largest single world producer of opium, and it has achieved that infamous position precisely because it is a government that does not act against the drug barons." He also said that many European countries share this belief and have decided not to grant visas to ministers of Burma. This will make it difficult for Burmese officials, who are part of the ASEAN, to participate in the ASEAN process next year.

A Burmese military official replied that the drug problem Burma is "encountering today is the direct result of Britain's colonial strategy 150 years ago," when Britain forcibly introduced opium to Asia. The resulting opium trade provided Britain with great revenue from its Asian territories.