The United States came under fire from Afghanistan and Burma yesterday for renewing its designation of the countries as unco-operative in the fight against drugs. Washington, however, spared Colombia and Mexico, despite growing concerns about their anti-narcotics records. President Bill Clinton sent to Congress a list of 26 countries deemed to be major drugs producers or transit points. Among those listed, six nations were identified as having failed to take adequate measures, but of these only Afghanistan and Burma were targeted for possible sanctions through so-called 'decertification'. The other four countries - Cambodia, Haiti, Nigeria and Paraguay - were given so-called 'national interest waivers', exempting them from drug-related sanctions. Afghan and Burmese observers said it was hypocritical for the world community to condemn the impoverished countries for their failure to stop opium production while at the same time burdening them with economic sanctions that force their people to survive by whatever means possible. Presenting the 1999 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, US drug tsar Barry McCaffrey and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright blamed Afghanistan and Burma for supplying the lion's share of heroin consumed worldwide. 'For several years now, Afghanistan and Burma have been world headquarters for the heroin business,' Ms Albright said. She noted that both countries had been decertified in last year's report. 'This past year they retained that deadly dishonour.' Afghanistan 'is the source of the world's greatest heroin threat', Mr McCaffrey said, adding that its production of opium increased 23 per cent last year. Burma was also singled out, with Mr McCaffrey and Ms Albright accusing the military Government in Rangoon of tolerating drug trafficking and money laundering. An International Narcotics Control Board report and the US Government say the Taleban is taxing opium production at about 10 per cent, which the State Department report said 'imparts legitimacy to opium cultivation and distribution'. But the Taleban says the taxation is part of an Islamic tax on agricultural products that affects all crops grown in Afghanistan. Colombia and Mexico were among the 20 major producers and transit nations that were found to be doing their part to contain the growing scourge of the narcotics trade.