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U.S., Afghanistan To Discuss 'Strategic Partnership'


http://gdb.rferl.org/8E1BE1D6-4C91-437C-B5B1-A61F71745963_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/8E1BE1D6-4C91-437C-B5B1-A61F71745963_mw800_mh600.jpg Nicholas Burns (file photo) (epa) November 1, 2006 -- The United States has agreed to send a senior State Department official to Kabul in January for talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai as part of a "strategic partnership" dialogue.

Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said he has accepted Karzai's invitation, which was presented by visiting Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta.

Burns said the United States will continue to support the Afghan government as it confronts rising violence from Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters. He also said Washington wants to help the Afghan government expand security, eradicate the opium trade, and reduce corruption.

Previous "strategic partnership" talks have included officials from both countries in the fields of national security, defense, justice, counternarcotics, finance, and commerce.

(Reuters, AP)
Opium In Afghanistan
An antidrug billboard in Kabul shows a skeleton hanging from an opium bulb (AFP)

OPIUM FARMING ON THE RISE Despite a nationwide program by the Afghan government to eradicate opium-poppy fields and offer farmers alternative crops, international experts say that the 2006 opium crop will be as much as 40 percent larger than the previous year's. Afghanistan is the largest producer of opium in the world, and the source of as much as 90 percent of Europe's heroin.(more)


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