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    Press Release No:   UNIS/SG/2511
    Release Date:   1 March 2000
    High-level Meeting of 'Six Plus Two' Group on Afghanistan
    Discusses Drugs Emanating from that Country

     NEW YORK, 29 February 2000 (UN Headquarters) - The following was issued today by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

     The “Six plus Two” informal group on Afghanistan convened a meeting on 8 February at United Nations Headquarters at the level of Permanent Representatives and above in order to discuss issues of illicit drugs emanating from Afghanistan. The meeting was co-chaired by Kieran Prendergast, Under- Secretary-General for Political Affairs, and Pino Arlacchi, Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (UNDCCP).  The group comprises all the neighbours of Afghanistan -- China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan -- as well as the Russian Federation and the United States.

     Following an opening statement by Mr. Prendergast, Francesc Vendrell, Personal Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan (UNSMA), briefed the group on his recently ended mission to the region.  The group also heard an oral report from Mohammad Javad Zarif, Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs, the Islamic Republic of Iran, on the activities of a delegation which had also visited the region, under the aegis of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, in search of a political settlement of the Afghan conflict.

     The group then proceeded to the main topic on the agenda and heard a statement by Mr. Arlacchi on the question of illicit drug production and trafficking in the context of Afghanistan as well as his agency’s activities in the region.  Members agreed that the “Six plus Two” could make a useful contribution to drug- related problems and that UNDCCP should play a key role in facilitating its activities in this respect.  They exchanged views on how best to address the drug-related issues in a coordinated manner with a view to eliminating drug production and trafficking out of Afghanistan through a comprehensive and balanced regional action plan.  Ideas discussed at the meeting also included ways to promote regional cooperation, such as exchange of information and training of law enforcement personnel, as well as measures to tighten controls on chemical precursors and essential chemicals used for the manufacture of heroin and morphine base.

     At the end of the meeting, members of the group agreed to continue working-level consultations with a view to convening a technical meeting supported by UNDCCP in early April in Vienna.

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