Myanmar drug woes to spur on peace deals
Myanmar has promised to speed up peace efforts with ethnic minority groups in order to better tackle drug trafficking across its borders.
The Minister of Home Affairs, Lt Gen Kyaw Swe, made the promise during a meeting with Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Prajin Juntong Monday in Myanmar's capital Nay Pyi Taw.
The long-term success of drug crackdowns depends on the peace talks, Lt Gen Kyaw Swe said.
It is widely known that some armed ethnic groups in Myanmar control areas where drug factories are situated.
Myanmar and Thailand have agreed to strengthen joint efforts in tackling drug trafficking under the Safe Mekong Joint Operation pact, a multi-national drive launched in 2013 to stamp out drugs along the Mekong River.
China and five Association of Southeast Asian Nations members -- Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam signed the pact.
One of its goals is to "seal off" the Golden Triangle, the notorious drug-producing area where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet.
It covers a mountainous area of about 950,000 square kilometres.
Under the plan, each country has agreed to work together to prevent drugs being transported out of the Golden Triangle and block drug precursors being trafficked into this notorious drug-producing region.
ACM Prajin welcomed Myanmar's pledge.
"I would like to thank the Myanmar government for its closer cooperation in trying to solve drug problems," ACM Prajin said.
The operation in the Golden Triangle requires Myanmar's help, he stressed.
ACM Prajin said he also asked his Myanmar counterpart to work more closely with Thai authorities in treating drug addicts and efforts to prevent them from returning to narcotics. He said drug addicts are being treated as patients, not criminals.