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Afghanistan: Opium

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 16 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government supports recent US proposals to increase the spraying of opium fields in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. (157385)

Counter narcotics policy and implementation, including opium poppy elimination, is the responsibility of the Afghan Government. We work very closely with the US to support the Afghan Government on implementing their National Drug Control Strategy. The Afghan Government oppose the use of aerial and ground based spraying to eradicate opium poppy.

The US Government advocate spraying as one method of implementing non-negotiated forced eradication. But in their counter narcotics strategy for Afghanistan, published in August, they recognise that

“no herbicidal spray program would be implemented without the consent of the Government of Afghanistan”.

The UK continues to support the piloting of ground-based spraying, subject to the agreement of the Afghan Government, to test its efficacy and impact. It should be well explained to local populations and targeted in areas of Afghanistan where the security situation permits and there is good access to legal livelihoods for farmers. At present, we judge that the disadvantages of aerial spraying outweigh the benefits. We have made our position clear to both the Afghan Government and the US.