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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

LAVROV TO PROPOSE MEASURES TO COMBAT DRUG THREAT FROM AFGHANISTAN

RIA Novosti

LUXEMBOURG, February 28 (RIA Novosti) - At the meeting with the leading trio of the European Union in Luxembourg, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will propose measures to combat the drug threat from Afghanistan.

"These measures imply a further assistance to the Afghan authorities in forming capable anti-drug units in the police and in the frontier and customs services and their equipment with up-to-date weapons and technologies," official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Alexander Yakovenko specified.

"The Russian side believes it perspective to cooperate in the context of the Collective Security Treaty Organization-NATO and NATO-Shanghai Cooperation Organization in countering the Afghan drug threat. In this case NATO would operate in Afghanistan and the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization - in the zone of their geographical responsibility," Mr. Yakovenko said.

Apart from that, according to him, Moscow is convinced that a successful fight against the Afghan drug threat is impossible without the disclosure and neutralization of the network of transnational criminal groups, which deliver and sell Afghan drugs.

"The drug situation in that country continues to worsen," Mr. Yakovenko said. He underscored that the production of raw opium in Afghanistan (in heroin equivalent) increased in 2004, in comparison with 2003, by 17%, from 360 to 420 metric tons. According to the forecasts of international experts, the figure may reach 500 metric tons in 2005.

"Correspondingly, the amounts of heroin smuggling through Iran, Pakistan, Central Asia and Russia to Europe and the North American countries have grown. The number of drug addicts and the death rate from the so-called "heavy" drugs have also gone up," Mr. Yakovenko said.

The official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry underscored that the Russian side considers it necessary to take urgent measures to combat the Afghan drug threat.



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