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SCO To Help Afghanistan Combat Drug Trafficking

Police unload heroin seized in Jalalabad in February (epa) June 12, 2006 -- China says the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will join international efforts to stem the flow of drugs coming out of Afghanistan.

China's Xinhua state news agency quotes Deputy Foreign Minister Li Hui as saying the SCO will step up antidrug measures within the framework of its liaison group with Afghanistan with a view to creating an antinarcotics belt around the country.

Xinhua says Afghan President Hamid Karzai is expected to attend the next SCO summit, which will take place in Shanghai on June 15.

Other guests include Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

The SCO is made up of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Pakistan, India, Iran, and Mongolia have observer status.

Li says Kazakhstan will take over the organization's secretariat from China for the next three years.

(Xinhuanet, Interfax-China)

Helmand Province Governor Comments

Helmand Province Governor Comments

U.S. Marines operating in Helmand Province in 2002 (epa)

RULING A RESTIVE LAND: On February 12, RFE/RL Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent Jawaid Wafa spoke briefly with Helmand Province Governor MOHAMMAD DAOUD about the ongoing violence in his restive region on the border with Pakistan.

RFE/RL: Recently, there have been many clashes and attacks by insurgents in Helmand Province. What in your view facilitates these attacks, especially in Helmand?

Mohammad Daoud: This province has a 160-kilometer border with Pakistan's Baluchistan Province. In reality, armed people, armed terrorists, from the other side of the border cross the border into Helmand. They carry out attacks and return back. It is a serious problem in Helmand that within our borders there is neither tribal good will, nor are there are special military or security measures to prevent enemies from crossing back and forth.

RFE/RL: The attacks and clashes have not only been between government forces and insurgents. There have been various clashes in different parts of Helmand between police and purported drug smugglers. How do you explain this?

Daoud: Drug smugglers also use the border for their own purposes. They have opened markets on the border and process opium there. This is a serious problem along our border. We are in touch with our authorities on this problem.

RFE/RL: There are government border police patrol your border. What is their role in preventing illegal crossings?

Daoud: Along this 160-kilometer border, there are car routes, walking routes. We have border police, but unfortunately, either because of their own problems or because of weak administration, they have not been able to stop the crossing.


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