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Last Updated: Monday, 30 June, 2003, 17:51 GMT 18:51 UK
Straw focuses on Afghan drugs trade
Afghan opium poppies
Opium production has soared since the Taleban fell
Afghanistan's poor farmers need to be given new crops to earn money to prevent them growing opium poppies, the UK foreign secretary has said.

The flood of heroin from Afghanistan is one of the issues Jack Straw is raising with Afghan President Hamid Karzai during a visit to the country's capital, Kabul.

Heroin production has soared since the fall of the Taleban and more than 90% of the heroin on British streets comes from Afghanistan.

Mr Straw said policing and security measures were important in combating the drugs trade, but farmers also needed new ways to feed their families.

The UK and other countries were "raising their game" against the problem, he said at a joint news conference with his Afghan counterpart, Abdullah Abdullah.

Series of factors

"I think it is a very difficult problem. It requires action on all fronts," said Mr Straw.

"You have to have effective security and law enforcement interdiction at every point in the chain you also need long term programmes of education and, above all, alternative economic activity.

"You have got to take out the drug dealers and the barons behind them, the laboratories, the money laundering, and you have got to keep at that and we are raising our game against them.

Jack Straw in Afghanistan
Jack Straw visited soldiers training Afghan recruits
"At the same time we have to recognise that if you are a very poor farmer - not just in Afghanistan - the temptation to grow heroin or cocaine is very great."

Mr Straw said the UK was "completely committed" to a long-term programme made up of short-term steps.

During his visit he was also shown the military training centre in Kabul where UK and US troops are teaching recruits in the fledgling Afghan National Army.

Calling for more support from the West, Dr Abdullah hoped there would be a new international conference on rebuilding Afghanistan within the next few weeks.

"I think that Afghanistan is a joint effort by the international community is a success story with a lot of challenges ahead of us," he said.

Afghans 'must restore security'
30 Jun 03  |  South Asia
More UK troops for Afghanistan
28 Jun 03  |  South Asia
Back to the future in Kabul
24 Jun 03  |  South Asia
Afghanistan in the grip of opium
18 Jun 03  |  South Asia

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