NEW YORK — India continues to remain on the White House list of countries that are “major” transit points for or producers of illicit drugs.
The annual list was released Sept. 11 as U.S. President Donald Trump prepared for a global campaign against drugs at the U.N. later in September.
The 21 countries on the list include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Mexico and Colombia.
India has been on the list since 2004 when President George W. Bush first issued it under a 2003 law enacted by Congress. President Barack Obama continued to keep India on the list.
India’s inclusion on the list has been a point of friction between New Delhi and Washington.
A country’s presence on the list “is not necessarily a reflection of its government’s counter-narcotics efforts or level of cooperation with the U.S.,” Trump said in his memorandum.
“The reason 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,” he clarified.
Significantly, the list has not included any western countries even though they have figured as transit points for drugs.
Nigeria, Brazil, Vietnam and Thailand, which had figured on the original and subsequent lists are no longer included.
Trump is scheduled to preside over a high-level meeting of the Security Council on the drug menace Sept. 24 and issue a global call to action on the world drug problem, Indian American U.S. Permanent Representative Nikki Haley announced last week.
Trump has made battling the crisis of opioid addiction that has gripped the U.S. a priority and even suggested that the nation should consider the death penalty for drug dealers.
According to the U.S. government, more than 72,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2017, nearly 50,000 of them from opioids, including the misuse of pharmaceuticals.
Trump said in his memorandum, “My administration is committed to addressing all factors fueling this drug crisis, which is devastating communities across America, including steps to curb over-prescription, expand access to treatment and recovery programs, improve public education programs to prevent illicit drug use before it begins, and to strengthening domestic drug enforcement at our borders and throughout our nation.
“Alongside these massive and historic U.S. 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,” he added.