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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                      (San Francisco, California)
For Immediate Release                                  February 26, 1998


               Overview of 1998 Presidential Certification 
              for Major Drug Producing and Transit Countries

Under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (the FAA), the President must identify and notify the Congress of those countries he has determined are major illicit drug producing and/or drug transit countries. President Clinton identified the present list of 30 major illicit drug producing and/or transit countries and dependent territories and notified the Congress in November 1997.

By March 1 of each year, the President must determine whether to certify that each of the majors list countries is cooperating fully with the United States, or has taken adequate steps on its own, to achieve the counternarcotics goals and objectives of the 1988 UN Drug Convention. In reaching these determinations, the President must consider efforts taken by these states to stop the cultivation and export of, and reduce the domestic demand for, illegal drugs. The President is required to examine each country's performance in areas such as stemming illicit cultivation and production, extraditing drug traffickers, and taking legal steps and law enforcement measures to prevent and punish public corruption that facilitates drug trafficking or impedes prosecution of drug-related crimes.

On February 26, President Clinton certified that 22 countries and dependent territories cooperated fully with United States or took adequate steps on their own to meet the international counternarcotics performance standards of the law. The countries are: Aruba, The Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Taiwan, Thailand, Venezuela, Vietnam.

The FAA also provides the President with the authority to certify that the vital national interests of the United States require that a country be certified -- even if it does not fully meet the criteria for certification. The President has granted a vital national interests certification to four countries: Cambodia, Colombia, Pakistan and Paraguay.

The President denied certification to four countries that do not meet the statutory standards for certification: Afghanistan, Burma, Iran and Nigeria. Decertification results in substantial restrictions on most types of U.S. assistance to these countries.

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