Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 1
The US and India discussed initiatives to strengthen India’s regional leadership role in building capacity for counter-narcotics initiatives in South Asia.
They also resolved to enhance sharing of operational intelligence to counter regional cross-border drug trafficking and crime during the first inaugural meeting of the Indo-US Counternarcotics Working Group (CNWG).
The CNWG was discussed and approved as part of an expanded agenda for bilateral cooperation at the third Indo-US two-plus-two meeting held between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Ministers S Jaishankar and Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper here on October 27, said sources.
Both India and the US see a link between the trade in narcotics and financing of armed, anti-state activities.
The US had documented the Taliban as having encouraged Afghan farmers to grow opium that was converted into the highly addictive heroin in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. Proceeds from heroin smuggling to Europe and Russia have been deployed to stoke radicalism in Central Asia and the Russian Caucasus.
Both sides also agreed to enhance their data sharing operations to combat the trade in drugs and precursor chemicals.
“Participants highlighted their efforts in combating drug trafficking in accordance with the rules and regulations of their respective countries and proposed to share best practices for countering synthetic opioids and precursor chemicals,” read a joint statement.
The Indian delegation was led by Sachin Jain, Deputy Director General, Narcotics Control Board, while the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Kemp Chester, Department of State’s Jorgan Andrews, and Department of Justice’s Jennifer Hodge jointly led the US team at the virtual interaction.