America’s “honest disagreement” with Russia over Afghan drugs

While the US intensifies its crackdown on Islamist militants in Afghanistan, the country's government is considering peace talks with the Taliban.

President Hamid Karzai wants the international community to help him reconcile with insurgents by offering them money and jobs.

However, investigative journalist Gareth Porter says Washington is still uncertain about supporting the project.

“The Obama administration really wants to have no negotiations with Taliban for quite a while – by that I mean at least mid-2011, when the period of the troops surge in Afghanistan has run its course and supposedly some troops withdrawal is taking place.”

Porter calls this stance “a strategic mistake” because later it could be more difficult to seal a deal with the Taliban.

While the Afghan president envisages negotiations with the militants, Moscow believes that an efficient fight against the Taliban and terrorism in the world without tackling drug producing and trafficking is impossible.

Deputy Head of Russia’s Federal Service for Control of Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Circulation Vladimir Kalanda told Ekho Moskvy radio station on Wednesday that the drug problem is closely related to acts of terror in Afghanistan and other countries:

“We are trying to convince our partners that there could be no efficient fight against, as they say, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda on the territory of Afghanistan without a comprehensive fight against drug production in Afghanistan.”

Washington, however, is of the opposite opinion on the issue.

On Tuesday, speaking to journalists, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke said the United States has an “honest disagreement” with Russia over eradicating poppy fields in Afghanistan.

“The Russian government thinks that poppy eradication is the key; we think it was creating opportunities for the Taliban to recruit farmers,” he said.

Instead, Washington wants to put greater emphasis on interdiction and destroying drug bazaars.