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    RUSSIAN STATE DRUG MONITORING COMMITTEE TO COOPERATE WITH AFGHANISTAN IN COMBATING ILLEGAL DRUG TRAFFICKING

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    MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 5 (RIA NOVOSTI) - The State Committee for Monitoring the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Trafficking is going to intensify cooperation with the law-enforcement bodies of Afghanistan in combating illegal drug trafficking, deputy chairman of the Committee Alexander Fyodorov told journalists on Thursday.

    "The Committee's office may be opened in Afghanistan this year. In addition, we hope to closely cooperate with the law-enforcement bodies of Afghanistan in conducting special operations to cut short the production and smuggling of narcotics," he said.

    Fyodorov pointed out that these issues would be discussed in Kabul at the international conference on the narcotics' problem. The conference has been scheduled for February 6-13 and will be attended by representatives of more than 20 states, the UN drug monitoring department and other international organizations.

    He specified that at present the international community should create the security belt around Afghanistan to stop taking out drugs from the country.

    According to the UN estimates, a record-high harvest of opium was gathered in Afghanistan in 2003 - 4,000 tons which, if calculated in terms of heroin, makes up 400 tons.

    According to Fyodorov, Russia can cooperate with Central Asian states in combating the drug trafficking. He cited its cooperation with Tajikistan where in 2003, with the help of Russian border-guards, more than 10 tons of narcotics were confiscated of which there were more than five tons of heroin.

    At the same, he added, this is only 10-15 percent of the total volume of drug trafficking through the territory of Afghanistan.

    Experts estimate that it is impossible to sharply reduce the production of narcotics in Afghanistan in the near future.

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