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4/14/07

Afghani FM: Terrorism, guns and opium are the three challenges for Afghanistan today

TEHRAN, Apr.14 (ISNA)-Foreign minister of Afghanistan stated that terrorism, guns and opium were the three areas of challenge that Afghanistan faced today.

Afghani foreign minister, Rangin Dadfar Spanta arrived in Tehran on Tuesday to discuss regional issues with his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki calling for closer links with its neighboring country, Iran.

Speaking to ISNA, Spanta stated that powerful countries, producers of arms and the limited political and social sphere of Afghanistan did not permit this country to fight against "terrorism, opium and gun", the three areas of challenge that Afghanistan faced today.

"These three challenges must be eradicated or else they will soon eradicate Afghanistan," he reflected.

He further acknowledged the notable presence of NATO forces in Afghanistan and denied the apprehension they had stirred in neighboring countries and the region.

"Until Afghani security and military forces are not fully ready to fight against terrorism, NATO presence is necessary," he added.

When asked if the Afghani government had a precise timetable for evacuating the country from foreign forces, Spanta responded that the issue could be considered on a timetable basis.

"The NATO is here for a reason, it is here to fight the international terrorism in Afghanistan. When the reason and the causes are eliminated and Afghani forces can defend their territory on their own, then there would be no reason for the foreign forces to stay," he said.

In another part of his talk, Spanta confirmed that Ben Laden was not in Afghanistan and stressed that all international experts were fully aware that Ben Laden was not in that country.

He also referred to the five times rise -in comparison to the previous year- of drug production in Afghanistan.

"There was a notable 40 percent raise in drug production this year, 90 percent of which were produced in the province of Helmand, the center of terrorist activities in Afghanistan," he said while referring the direct relationship between terrorism and raise in production of drugs.

In the final part of his talk, Spanta noted "empowering police forces, providing the people with alternative agricultural products" while struggling against drugs production was an appropriate scheme in resolving the issue.

"We must raise the price of alternative agricultural products, so that more people would be encouraged to grow them," he concluded.

... Payvand News - 4/14/07 ... --



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