Despite continued talks, opium trade still tests Russia-U.S. relations

By Kathy Lally

One of the overlooked effects of the U.S. “reset” of its relationship with Russia is a continuing conversation about narcotics that has defused a potentially damaging disagreement over Afghanistan’s opium trade.

Russia wants the United States to spray and eradicate the poppy fields, blaming Afghan heroin for the drug addiction of 1.6 million Russians and the deaths of 30,000 every year. The United States, which once endorsed spraying, has decided that eradication is a failed, counterproductive strategy and supports longer-term agricultural alternatives, as well as urging Russia to deal with drugs through treatment and prevention.


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