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    CSTO calls on NATO to step up drug-fighting efforts in Afghanistan

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    Collective Security Treaty Organization member states are ready to boost cooperation with NATO security forces in Afghanistan in fighting drug trafficking, Russia's envoy to the United Nations said on Thursday.

    Collective Security Treaty Organization member states are ready to boost cooperation with NATO security forces in Afghanistan in fighting drug trafficking, Russia's envoy to the United Nations said on Thursday.

    "An issue of establishing prompt cooperation between the CSTO and NATO in fighting drug trafficking has been long on the agenda. We are sure that our organization's potential and experience in this direction are quite useful," Vitaly Churkin said during a UN General Assembly meeting.

    It is clear that "fragmentary efforts" made by the international community are not enough to tackle the Afghan drug threat, while well-coordinated joint steps do yield results, he said.

    Joint drug-fighting operations carried out by CSTO member states in 2009 allowed seizing 116 tons of drugs smuggled from Afghanistan, while more than 220 tons of drugs have been seized since the launch of a large-scale CSTO campaign against drug trafficking in 2003.

    Afghan drug production has skyrocketed since the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban in 2001. Russia has been one of the most affected countries, with drug consumption rising steeply. A total of 21 percent of the world's heroin is consumed in Russia, where 30,000-40,000 people are killed by drugs annually.

    Last week, Russian and U.S. drug control services carried out their first joint anti-narcotics operation in Afghanistan, destroying four major drug laboratories and causing $1 billion in damage to the Afghan drug mafia.

    Churkin also expressed concern on the behalf of the CSTO over the worsening of security situation in northern Afghanistan, which borders CSTO member states of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

    "We are especially concerned over the increasing instability in Afghanistan's northern provinces, which used to be relatively calm. We are calling for an end to ineffective tactics of forcing militants out of combat zones, which allows them to redeploy while maintaining their combat power," the Russian envoy said.

    Dialogue with Taliban militants should take place only if they repent, comply with the country's laws and break their ties with al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, Churkin said.

    "We consider any backstage contacts with Taliban militants unacceptable," he added.

    UNITED NATIONS, November 4 (RIA Novosti) 

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