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Afghanistan Fails U.S. Drug Test

President Bush said Monday that Afghanistan "failed demonstrably" in 2001 to cooperate in anti-narcotics efforts but that the country nonetheless is entitled to receive U.S. assistance because of vital American interests.

Mr. Bush made the announcement in a brief statement in which he evaluated the performance of 23 countries involved in drug trafficking as producers, transit points or both.

Afghanistan and Haiti were cited for failing to stem illegal drugs Bush granted them each a waiver from penalties in the interests of U.S. national security.

The United States has said Afghanistan's former ruling Taliban militia and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network used Afghan drug profits to support terrorism.

Afghanistan was on the black list last year but did not receive a waiver because the Taliban was still in charge. The U.S.-led war on terrorism helped topple Taliban rule in Afghanistan, and Washington has vowed to help the battered nation rebuild.

The United States has pledged about $300 million to the country since the bombing began there on Oct. 7.

Burma was cited again this year for failing demonstrably to make substantial efforts during the last year to adhere to international anti-narcotics agreements.

"This determination does not affect Burma's eligibility for certain humanitarian and other assistance, however," a White House statement said.

In addition to Burma, Haiti and Afghanistan, 20 nations were cited as major drug-transit or major illicit drug-producing countries: The Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Thailand, Venezuela and Vietnam

But the 20 were exempted from penalties because it was deemed they are cooperating with U.S. efforts to crack down on illegal drugs.

This year President Bush was required to identify any country on the list that had failed demonstrably to make substantial efforts against drug trafficking during the last year.

This procedure was a change from past years when the president determined what countries on the list had cooperated fully with the United States, or taken adequate steps on their own, against drugs.

The change was prompted by complaints from Mexico and other Latin American nations that the process was a humiliation to them as they tried to fight against drug trafficking at home.

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