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Russia, China, India seek Afghan anti-drug 'belt' PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 16 May 2008

REUTERS, Yekaterinburg, Russia - China, India and Russia called on Thursday for the creation of a security belt around Afghanistan to halt the spread of heroin.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a joint communique on boosting links between the three large developing countries would look at enhanced co-operation on humanitarian aid, fighting terrorism and combating drug trafficking.

"We discussed the situation around Afghanistan, where the drug threat emanates. It would help to build drug-secure belts around Afghanistan," Lavrov said after holding talks with his Chinese and Indian counterparts in this Urals city.

Afghanistan, devastated by three decades of Soviet occupation and civil war, accounts for 93 percent of world opium output, according to United Nations data.

Around 90 percent of the global supply of heroin emanates in Afghanistan, with output increasing since the fall of the Taliban regime in late 2001.

One of the main drug trafficking routes from Afghanistan lies across sparsely populated post-Soviet Central Asia to Russia. From there Afghan drugs make their way to Europe.

Lavrov, together with his Indian and Chinese counterparts, said they wanted to boost cooperation after talks in Yekaterinburg. The city sits on a major geographic division alongside the Ural mountains that divide Europe from Asia.

"I believe that against the backdrop of a multi-polar world it is necessary to advance cooperation between Russia, China and India, the three countries that are rapidly growing and enjoying strong economic growth," said Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

Yang said China wanted further expansion of cooperation with "more content and substance" that would cover sectors like agriculture, medicines and disaster relief. He did not specify how this would operate.

The next trilateral meeting will take place next year in India, said Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

He said India also wanted to boost its cooperation with the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement countries which apart from China and Russia include four former Soviet Central Asian states.

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