Record opium poppy crop expected in Afghanistan in 2006-envoy

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MOSCOW, September 6 (RIA Novosti) - Afghanistan's opium poppy harvest this year may be the biggest in its history, a Russian presidential envoy said Wednesday.

Russia's interior minister said last month that opium poppy production kept growing in Afghanistan, despite measures taken by the global community to counter it.

"This year, the most impressive, formidable crop will be harvested - up to 95% of the world's heroin - 6,100 to 6,200 [metric] tons of opiates," said Anatoly Safonov, a Russian representative for international cooperation in fighting terrorism and trans-border organized crime.

He said opium poppy crops rose 40% this year.

Since the collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001, the international community has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on efforts to destroy poppy crops, close drug labs, pay subsidies to impoverished farmers and encourage them to cultivate alternate crops.

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