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Russia to expand cooperation in global anti-drug campaign

MOSCOW, April 11 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's anti-drug agency said Wednesday it will expand its cooperation with other countries in global anti-drug smuggling efforts by opening bureaus in more than 50 countries, including Afghanistan and Iran.

Afghanistan is considered a major source of illegal drugs, particularly heroin. Forty-seven percent of Afghan drugs are smuggled through Iran and 25% through Central Asian countries, ending up mostly on European and Russian markets.

"We are planning to open more than 50 [foreign] bureaus in the future, starting with eight in the first half of this year, in particularly, in Kabul and Tehran," said Alexander Mikhailov, a spokesman for the Federal Service for Drugs Control.

The official said that the main purpose for the move was to ensure the timely exchange of information in monitoring illicit drug-trafficking activities on the territory where the bureaus will be located.

"We do realize, though, that the exchange of operative information between agencies in countries with unstable domestic environments will be extremely difficult," Mikhailov said.

Afghanistan has regained its position as the world's top drug producer since U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban in 2001.

Illegal drug production and trade is the only source of income for many in the war-torn southwest Asian nation, and is a major source of financing for Islamist militants.

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