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DATE=9/10/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=AFGHAN DRUGS (L ONLY) NUMBER=2-253706 BYLINE=AYAZ GUL DATELINE=ISLAMABAD CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: A new report by the U-N Drug Control Program (UNDCP) says Afghanistan has produced more opium -- the raw material used to make heroin - this year than any other country in the world. Ayaz Gul has the story from Islamabad. TEXT: The U-N report says Afghanistan so far this year has produced an estimated 4,500 metric tones of opium -- 70- percent of the world's opium production. In addition, the study says 96-percent of cultivation this year occurred in the areas controlled by the dominant Taleban Islamic movement. The U-N Drug Control Program representative for Afghanistan, Bernard Frahi, says the area under poppy cultivation increased by 43 per cent. He describes the development as alarming. // FRAHI ACT// As you see, it has been a dramatic increase and we have all reasons to be anxious and to be worried about the expansion of opium poppy cultivation in a single country. //END ACT// Mr. Frahi says there are many reasons for the dramatic increase. He says bad weather in 1998 affected the poppy harvest in the country, which forced farmers to expand areas of poppy cultivation this year. Moreover, he says, despite some positive signals, the Taleban movement has failed to enforce a two-year old decree that bans poppy cultivation in the country. U-N officials also say the eradication of the opium crop is unlikely, given the Taleban's apparent unwillingness to take a strong stand against it. The officials say the Taleban, for example, have taken no steps to close the markets in the countryside where poppy is traded. They also say the Taleban charges a ten percent tax on all crops, including opium, which almost legitimizes its cultivation. The Taleban, which controls most of the war-torn Afghanistan, says the country needs international assistance that can provide Afghan farmers with the money to plant crops other than opium. The hard-line Islamic movement also says it wants recognition from the United Nations. Taleban leaders believe that U-N recognition will open the floodgate of aid to Afghanistan. Afghanistan's two-decades of war have devastated the country and made refugees of a large part of its population. (Signed) NEB/AG/KL 10-Sep-1999 20:49 PM LOC (11-Sep-1999 0049 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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