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Thursday, May 14, 1998 Published at 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK

image: [ BBC Correspondent: Flora Botsford ]Flora Botsford

Senior officials from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, China, Burma and Thailand are attending a two-day meeting which aims to implement a plan for drug control approved in Thailand nearly a year ago. From Bangkok Flora Botsford reports:

Acknowledging Vietnam's increasing drug problem, General Le Minh Huong said the authorities were working hard to strengthen their drive against illegal narcotics.

In a statement released to foreign reporters, who were barred from the meeting, he said Vietnam had begun a programme of drug prevention and anti-drug education as well as working to eradicate opium cultivation and control the production, storage, transportation and trafficking of drugs.

Welcoming participants from Cambodia, Laos, China, Burma, Thailand and the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), the General said the Vietnamese government appreciated the help of neighbouring countries and international organisations in the fight against narcotics, a serious problem, which as time went on, seems to be increasing.

The growing importance of Vietnam as a trafficking route between the infamous Golden Triangle region and parts of southern China has long been recognised by international agencies.

UN officials at the meeting said Vietnam had eradicated most of its opium productions since 1991. But the amount of heroin seized in the same period had increased by more than fifty times.

According to the UN, the biggest producer of heroin is Burma with demand and abuse of drugs growing all over the region. In particular the UN has expressed concern that the use of synthetic drugs such as amphetamines, is increasing in Asia providing a new target in the war against drug abuse.

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