Russia, China concerned by growing Afghan drug threat

Russia's drug control chief, who is currently on a visit to Beijing, said on Thursday his Chinese colleagues shared Russia's concerns about the growing drug threat from Afghanistan.

Moscow has criticized U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan for failing to eradicate opium production and warned over the weekend that drug trafficking was endangering Russia's national security.

Viktor Ivanov said high-ranking Chinese officials, including Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu and Deputy Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping, had also expressed "particular concern" about Afghan drug trafficking, which they say "escalates tensions" in China's troubled Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous district.

"Both the Russian and the Chinese side note the extremely low efficiency of anti-drug efforts by the international coalition forces in Afghanistan," he said.

A year ago, Russia provided the coalition forces with information on 175 drug labs in Afghanistan, but "they continue to send heroin to our countries, and none of them has been eliminated," Ivanov said.

Russia says production of heroin in Afghanistan has increased almost tenfold since the US-led invasion to oust the Taliban in 2001.

The Chinese public security minister said the amount of Afghan drugs is also on the increase in China. It rose from 4.3 metric tons of heroin last year to six metric tons in the first five months of 2010.


U.S. drug strategy targets drug use prevention, not production - official

RIA Novosti

The U.S. president's anti-drug strategy is aimed at preventing and treating drug use, but not at targeting opium production in Afghanistan, Russia's drug control chief said on Wednesday.

The National Drug Control Strategy, unveiled by Barack Obama earlier this month, shifts the emphasis from fighting a war on drugs and poppy eradication to treating drug users.

The strategy establishes five-year goals for reducing drug use through a balanced approach of prevention, treatment, enforcement, and international cooperation. Some $15.5 billion is planned to be spent next year to reduce drug use.

However, the head of Russia's State Anti-Narcotics Committee, Viktor Ivanov, said drug use could only be curbed through eradicating the growing of poppies for opium production in Afghanistan and treating the waves of heroin coming from the country as a major global threat.

According to the Federal Drug Control Service, Afghan opium causes the deaths of around 100,000 people around the world annually. In Russia alone Afghan heroin kills around 30,000 young people each year.

"Until we eliminate drug production, there will be endless conflict," Ivanov said.

He also said he was expecting good results from an international forum in Moscow on June 9-10 on combating Afghan drug trafficking. The forum will gather representatives of key anti-drugs agencies and leading experts.

The forum, initiated by RIA Novosti, aims at adopting a common strategy in the struggle against drug production and international drug trafficking.

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