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NATO Says It Won't Lead Fight Against Afghan Heroin

1 June 2005 -- NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said today that the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Afghanistan will not take a leading role in eradicating poppies from which heroin is processed.

U.S. officials have expressed concern over the growth of the heroin trade in Afghanistan.

De Hoop Scheffer said the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan could play a "supporting role" in Afghan efforts to eradicate poppy cultures.

But he said PRTs (provincial reconstruction teams) were not going into the poppy fields to spray.

De Hoop Scheffer, beginning a three-day visit to the United States, met first with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and was to meet later in the day with U.S. President George W. Bush and attend a dinner hosted by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Scheffer also expressed frustration over the failure by NATO-led allied forces to capture elusive former Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.