MOSCOW, MARCH 25. (RIA NOVOSTI CORRESPONDENT PETER GONCHAROV). Moscow sees the economic upsurge and the creation of power structures in Afghanistan as the main directions of stabilisation in that country, Alexander Yakovenko, official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, has said.

In view of the conference on Afghanistan, due to open in Berlin on March 31, he underlined the importance of the involved states operating on the economic space of Afghanistan "as partners" and the local authorities creating the due conditions for the inflow of investments.

The Russian diplomat voiced concern over the growing scope of subversive activities of international terrorists and the remains of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. These elements are broadening their social base owing to the population's disgruntlement over the hard social and household conditions, the low efficiency of economic programmes and international assistance, Alexander Yakovenko said.

In this connection, the Russian Foreign Ministry sees as the main goal the build-up of the Afghan armed forces, the police, secret services and justice bodies, as well as the disarmament of the population and the reintegration of "ex-combatants" into a life of peace. Moscow is going to continue cooperation with Afghanistan in this sphere, Yakovenko stressed.

To him, the solution of problems of Afghanistan is directly linked to curbing the production and contraband of narcotics because the narcobusiness provides financial backing to the Afghan antigovernment forces and greatly prevents the rehabilitation of the Afghan economy in general.

The Russian diplomat recalled the UN figures: the production of raw opium in Afghanistan in 2003 stood at 360 tonnes in terms of heroin. The incomes of Afghan producers and middlemen of narcotics are estimated at 2.3 billion dollars and the external turnover of the Afghan narcobiz at over 30 billion dollars annually.

"Russia is, as before, convinced of the growing need for developing a comprehensive international strategy of opposing the threat of narcotics emanating from Afghanistan, including steps to be taken inside the country and around it", stressed the official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry.

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