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    No dispute with Russia on Afghan anti-drug policy - U.S. diplomat

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    Despite minor disagreements, the U.S. and Russia are working "actively" to shape a common anti-drug policy in Afghanistan.

    Despite minor disagreements, the U.S. and Russia are working "actively" to shape a common anti-drug policy in Afghanistan, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan said on Wednesday.

    In late February, Russia expressed its indignation over NATO's failure to limit opium cultivation in the world's largest heroin producer and criticized the international military contingent in Afghanistan for "practically guarding the fields where the drugs are grown."

    "We are working as actively as we can with Russia to work out common policies... We don't always agree on every single detail, but we have the same objective, and so we work it through," Richard Holbrooke said.

    He said he had "very extensive talks" on the issue with the head of Russia's anti-drug agency, Viktor Ivanov, last November.

    "The Russians think that poppy crop eradication should be continued. We think it works against our larger purpose, and we're focusing on high traffickers' interdiction and destroying drug bazaars, but that's a tactical difference," he said.

    Afghanistan produces more than 90% of the world's illegal opium, the main raw material for heroin and a major source of revenue for Afghan Taliban-led insurgency.

    Afghan opium production increased dramatically after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled the Taliban in 2001, and Russia has been one of the most affected countries, with heroin consumption rising steeply.

    Russia was the biggest consumer of Afghan heroin in 2008, accounting for 21% of Afghanistan's production according to the UNODC report "Addiction, Crime and Insurgency" released in February

    Russia's envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, described "heroin aggression" as "the main threat to Russia," and Moscow urged NATO to prioritize the fight against drug trafficking in Afghanistan earlier this year.

    WASHINGTON, March 3 (RIA Novosti)

     

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