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REUTERS(12/2/96): UNDCP HOPES CONTI
Subject: REUTERS(12/2/96): UNDCP HOPES CONTINUED REGIONAL COOPERATIONS
ASIA: BURMA PLEDGES TO CUT KHUN SA OPIUM BY 70 PER CENT
By Robert Birsel of Reuters
BANGKOK, Feb 12 Reuter - Burma says it will cut the production
of opium from areas of the country previously under the control of
drug warlord Khun Sa by 70 per cent, a UN narcotics suppression
official said today.
Giorgio Giacomelli, executive director of the UN International
Drug Control Program (UNDCP), said while Burma seemed determined to
cut output in Khun Sa's former zones there was a danger opium
growing would balloon elsewhere as a result.
Khun Sa and more than 12,000 members of his Mong Tai Army (MTA)
guerrilla force surrendered to the government last month from their
strongholds in north-eastern Burma.
"They say that this (Khun Sa's surrender) will have a
significant impact because they do, and intend to, control the
territory which was controlled by the Mong Tai Army," Giacomelli
told reporters in Bangkok.
"I am convinced it will significantly decrease the local
contribution to trafficking (but) we have to avoid that this has
the balloon effect, and the drugs will be produced somewhere else
Giacomelli was speaking at the end of a regional visit to
Cambodia, Vietnam, Burma and Thailand.
Narcotics suppression agencies estimate that Khun Sa was
responsible for approximately half of Burma's annual crop of 2,000
tonnes of opium, enough to produce 200 tonnes of heroin.
Giacomelli said Burmese authorities told him they would take
direct control of Khun Sa's former areas and would not cede control
to drug-producing ethnic minority militias as they have done in
other parts of the country.
"There they intend to control it themselves, that should make a
difference," he said.
Burmese leaders told him they would cut opium production by 70
per cent but they did not give a time frame for the reduction nor
explain how they intended to achieve the target.
Giacomelli said the Burmese leaders insisted they had made no
deal with Khun Sa but said they would not extradite him to the
United States where he has been indicted on drugs charges.
Burmese officials told him Khun Sa would be dealt with according
to Burmese law and practice, but they declined to elaborate on what
"Are we more interested in scoring a major success in the
reduction of drug trafficking or are we more interested in the way
in which Khun Sa will be dealt with? This is the rhetorical
question they have been putting," Giacomelli said.
Giacomelli, when asked about the possibility that Rangoon
dealing leniently with Khun Sa might send the wrong message to
other drug traffickers, said he hoped Khun Sa's treatment would not
undermine regional efforts against narcotics.
"What I want is that drugs will be significantly decreased and
that they will not do something which may break the confidence, or
undercut regional and international cooperation," he said.
"I can only hope it will be, maybe not pleasing to everybody 100
per cent, but it will be acceptable."