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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 March 2007, 22:47 GMT
Afghan opium 'hits record output'
By Jonathan Beale
BBC News, Washington

Opium poppy
Poppy production was up 25%, the US said
Opium production in Afghanistan reached record levels last year, the United States has said.

The US State Department's annual report on narcotics also said the flourishing drugs trade was undermining the fight against the Taleban.

It warned of a possible increase in heroin overdoses in Europe and the Middle East as a result.

Poppy production rose 25% in 2006, a figure US Assistant Secretary of State Ann Patterson described as alarming.

Four years after the US and its British allies began combating poppy production, Afghanistan still accounts for 90% of the world's opium trade.

The US has recently given the Afghan government more than $10bn in assistance, but most of that money will be spent in security rather than encouraging alternative sources of income.

The report also criticised South America's left-wing leaders such as Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Bolivia's Evo Morales, for failing to do enough to fight the drugs trade.


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Warning over Afghan drug economy
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