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Iran, Italy could lead drug battle

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki says Iran and Italy could lead the battle on drugs trafficked from the war-ravaged Afghanistan.

Speaking to his Italian counterpart Franco Frattini on Tuesday, Mottaki pointed out that the drug situation in Afghanistan is made worse by the presence of the US-led forces, stating that Iran-Italy cooperation could contribute to the stationing of peace and stability in Afghanistan, ISNA reported.

The Iranian official made the comments at the sidelines of the international conference on Afghanistan in the country’s capital Kabul.

For his part, the Italian diplomat described as constructive the Islamic Republic’s efforts in Afghanistan.

“Iran has drawn up and executed suitable plans for Afghan development,” Frattini noted.

On various occasions Iranian officials have criticized Western countries’ policies towards Afghanistan, where poppy cultivation has drastically increased since the US-led military occupation of the country after the 2001 invasion.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime said late last year that the 2009 potential gross export value of opium from Afghanistan stood at US$2.8 billion. Afghanistan produces more than 90% of the global opium supply. Iranian police officials maintain that drug production in Afghanistan has had a 40-fold increase since the invasion in 2001.

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