April 21, 2016
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Ministers from Iran and Afghanistan agreed on Thursday to launch a joint pilot scheme on alternative means of livelihood across a border region as part of UN-sponsored efforts to curb narcotics production.
The agreement was reached in a meeting between Iran’s Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli and Afghan Minister of Counternarcotics Salamat Azimi, held at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Thursday.
The pilot project will be carried out in cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the international community in a region lying at Iran and Afghanistan’s common borders.
The initiative, proposed by the Iranian minister, includes Iran’s offer of help for neighboring Afghanistan to bring about a shift in the cropping pattern to reduce poppy cultivation.
Rahmani Fazli also called on the Afghan organizations to cooperate with Iran by providing information about the drug smugglers and major ringleaders and about the narcotics trafficking routes.
For her part, the Afghan minister praised Tehran for supporting Kabul, and stressed the need for the exchange of experience in various fields of combatting narcotics.
Iran is on a major transit route for drugs being smuggled from Afghanistan to Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Despite high economic and human costs, the Islamic Republic has been actively fighting drug trafficking. The war on drug trade originating from Afghanistan has claimed the lives of nearly 4,000 Iranian police officers over the past three decades.
According to UNODC, Iran is netting eight times more opium and three times more heroin than all other countries in the world combined.