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In the Name of God بسم الله

� UN Agency praises Iran`s effort to combat drugs

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UN Agency praises Iran`s effort to combat drug trafficking

Brussels, Sept 11, IRNA -- A top UN official has paid tribute to

Iran`s efforts to combat drug trafficking from Afghanistan and

appealed for help to the Afghan government to fight the scourge.

"I would like to pay tribute to what the Iranian government and

authorities and soldiers and policemen are doing (in fighting drug

trafficking)," Antonio Maria Costa, executive director, UN Office on

Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told a press conference in Brussels Wednesday

evening.

"We are familiar with the efforts of the entire community in the

society in Iran is engaged in."

Iran shares with Afghanistan a border which is 1,800 kms and is

very porous.

"The general assessment we provide and I heard that repeatedly

over and over again by my senior politicians in Kabul is very

favorable," Costa said in reply to IRNA`s question over Iran`s

cooperation with UNODC.

Costa spoke to the press after addressing the Euro-Atlantic

Partnership Council (EAPC) at NATO (North Atlantic Treaty

Organization) Headquarters in Brussels on Opium Cultivation in

Afghanistan.

He said 200 tons of drugs were seized in Iran in 2002 which is

about 10 percent of that being smuggled through Iran.

The UN official, who returned recently from a mission to

Afghanistan, where he met all top government representatives in Kabul,

as well as governors, elders and military commanders in opium growing

provinces, warned that a `major drug power game is being played in

Afghanistan` with the involvement of the warlords.

He said opium was grown in 74,000 hectares producing 3,400 tons of

drugs in Afghanistan last year.

The revenues from the drugs that went to the farmers and drug

traffickers was 2.5 billion dollars.

The International community, he pointed out, contributed only

dlrs 1.3 billion to Afghanistan for development last year.

The revenue from drug trafficking feeds into terrorist activities,

said the UN official.

He proposed that military involved in the operation `Enduring

Freedom` in Afghanistan should get involved in fighting drug

trafficking.

"I am not advocating that military force to be used against the

farmers and the cultivation," he clarified, adding, "This is a

domestic problem and has to be dealt by the government."

He praised the administration of Hamid Karzai for tackling the

drug problem.

"We have to help the government in establishing the foundations

and law and order and provide alternative assistance to farmers."

Costa said he is to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin next

week to discuss the social problems in Russia caused by narcotics

smuggled from Afghanistan.

NK/AH/210

End

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