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U.S. Denies Afghan Opium Crop Spraying

9 February 2005 -- The U.S. Embassy in Kabul says there is no evidence to support allegations that planes have been spraying opium-poppy crops in Afghanistan in a bid to destroy them and combat the illegal narcotics trade.

The embassy said in a statement late yesterday that there was no credible evidence that spraying has taken place in the southern Helmand Province.

The written statement added that no agency, personnel, or contractors associated with the U.S. government have conducted or been involved in such activity in Helmand or any other province.

Afghan officials say they have dispatched a team to Helmand to investigate reports from the local governor saying that aircraft sprayed opium-poppy fields last week.

The government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai says it opposes aerial spraying to destroy opium-poppy crops, favoring instead ground efforts.