Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, November 18, 2004

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Hyde Statement on U.N. Report Announcing
Substantial Increases in Afghan Opium Production

(WASHINGTON) - U.S. Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-IL), chairman of the House International Relations Committee, commented Thursday on a report released today by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime detailing of a 60 percent increase in Afghan opium production in the past year:

The soaring increase in Afghan opium and heroin production is attributable to a failure to develop a coherent and coordinated U.S. anti-drug strategy.

Drug production and smuggling are a chief source of income for anti-government forces and terrorists targeting coalition troops in Afghanistan. We should move expeditiously to create counternarcotics battalions - modeled on those fielded by the Turkish government - to target and destroy heroin production labs and opium storage depots until Afghan drug fighting institutions are in place and operational.

To discourage cultivation of opium, the United States and Europe should embrace an Afghan trade preference, modeled after the Andean trade preference, to give easy access to Afghan products in U.S. and European markets to encourage sustainable development necessary to stabilize the country.

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