US Secretary of State John Kerry told
the General Assembly of the Organisation of American States (OAS)
Wednesday in Guatemala that his country takes the drug problem
seriously and has reduced demand within its borders by 50 per cent
over five years.
Twenty-eight foreign ministers and representatives of 34 countries are meeting in the Central American country Wednesday and Thursday to discuss "integral policies" against drugs.
As he addressed his peers in the city of Antigua, Kerry said the approach to the challenge around narcotics must be balanced between health issues and the fight against criminal organisations.
The OAS ministerial gathering - the first of its kind attended by a US secretary of state since 2010 - was aiming to set up discussion of new strategies to fight drugs and the violence they generate in the hemisphere.
Host Guatemala favours legalisation, to reduce the challenge of fighting an illegal business and focus on health issues.
Kerry acknowledged that a reduction in demand and promoting rehabilitation are essential elements in the fight against the drug trade, although law enforcement remains a key aspect too.
He said US President Barack Obama welcomes honest and open debate on drug-control policies.
According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United States is the world's largest market for drugs.
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