March 25, 2010
NATO Wednesday rejected Russian calls for it to eradicate opium poppy fields in Afghanistan, saying the best way for Moscow to help control the drug would be to give more assistance against the insurgency.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Russia’s anti-drugs czar, Victor Ivanov, met NATO ambassadors in Brussels and proposed that NATO troops be given a U.N. mandate and an obligation to eradicate Afghan opium crops, which were killing 30,000 Russians a year.
But NATO spokesman James Appathurai said the drug problem had to be handled carefully to avoid alienating local people. He said the alliance was continuing efforts to target drug lords and drug labs, but added at a news briefing:
“We cannot be in a situation where we remove the only source of income of people who live in the second poorest country in the world without being able to provide them with an alternative.”