Thursday January 24, 2019
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India seeks enhanced economic ties with Iran

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New Delhi:  Iran being an important partner of India, according to Sushma Swaraj External Affairs Minister, called for improvement of commerce, infrastructure, trade and bilateral economic cooperation in energy on Monday.

Co-chairing the 18th session of the India-Iran Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) here with Iran’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Ali Tayebnia, Sushma Swaraj underlined the efforts underway to enhance bilateral economic cooperation in energy, infrastructure – including shipping, ports and railways — and trade and commerce, an official statement said.

“She stressed that connectivity afforded by Indian participation in Chahbahar port will facilitate linking Afghanistan and Central Asia with India,” the statement said.

“The Iranian side suggested the participation of India’s public and private sectors in the development of Chahbahar port and Chahbahar Free Trade Zone (FTZ) and in setting up industrial units in the FTZ.”

Sushma Swaraj emphasised the need for early completion of all necessary procedures for India’s participation in the Farzad-B gas field in Iran and pointed out India’s desire to participate in other oil and gas explorations in the west Asian nation as well.

“The two ministers reviewed the progress in trade and economic cooperation and a number of related matters, and discussed the possibilities in cooperation in railways, including by supply of rails, rolling stock, signalling and other works and India’s participation in Chahbahar-Zahedan-Mashhad railway line,” the statement said.

The JCM was preceded by meetings of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on trade and Commerce (November 18-19), Joint Working Group on energy (December 26) and Joint Working Group on infrastructure (December 26).

Earlier on Monday, Taiebnia called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who warmly recalled his meeting with the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Ufa earlier on the sidelines of the Brazil, Russia, India China, South Africa (BRICS) and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summits in Ufa, Russia, this year and reiterated the keen desire of India to expand its economic cooperation with Iran.(IANS)(image: mayatoday.com)

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Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran Hold Meeting To Counter Trafficking of Opiate

The United States has spent more than $8 billion in the past 17 years to assist Afghanistan in eradication efforts.

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Opium
An Afghan man works on a poppy field in Jalalabad province. VOA

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran have pledged to increase cooperation and information-sharing for effectively combating the trafficking of Afghan opiates.

War-shattered Afghanistan remains the world’s largest producer of opium, though the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime noted in its latest survey the opium cultivation decreased by 20 percent in 2018 due to a severe drought and reduced prices.

The illegal opiates are largely smuggled to international markets through Pakistan and Iran.

Need for more initiatives 

Afghan, Pakistan and Iranian counternarcotics officials concluded their two-day UNODC-facilitated interaction Wednesday in Islamabad, where delegates underscored the need for more efforts against the massive flow of illicit drugs.

Participants at the “Triangular Initiative” meeting called for timely sharing of information and conducting simultaneously interdiction operations along their shared largely porous borders.

oPIUM CULTIVATION
In this April 11, 2016, photo, farmers harvest raw opium at a poppy field in the Zhari district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan. VOA

The forum was established in 2007 with a mission to promote regional cooperation to reduce the poppy cultivation, trafficking, and consumption of drugs in the region and beyond.

Officials acknowledged that despite Afghanistan’s political tensions with Pakistan and Iran anti-drugs cooperation largely continues.

Renewed attitude 

Cesar Guedes, UNODC representative in Pakistan, noted the three countries attended the Islamabad meeting with “a revived attitude and role”, raising prospects for more effective counternarcotics efforts in 2019.

“More needs to be done because the level of [Afghan opium] production has also increased. They need really to coordinate closer in their joint efforts,” he told VOA

Guedes also called for increased international assistance, saying Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran alone cannot curb the menace of drugs.

opium
FILE – Afghan farmers collect raw opium as they work in a poppy field in Khogyani district of Jalalabad east of Kabul, Afghanistan, May 10, 2013. VOA

“This has to be done in the framework of shared responsibility. All the countries, producers, consumers and transit need to join the effort,” he said.

Despite many challenges facing the government, the head of the Afghan delegation said authorities have taken significant steps to eradicate drug trafficking.

US assistance 
Director General for Policy Planing at the Afghan Ministry of Narcotics, Mohammad Osman Frotan, said 89 percent of poppy cultivation this year has taken place in the Afghan provinces most hit by insurgent activities. He said counternarcotics authorities during 2018 have seized more than 433 tons of different types of drugs, and arrested and prosecuted almost 4,000 suspects.

Also Read: Pakistan In U.S. Blacklist For Religious Freedom Violations

The United States has spent more than $8 billion in the past 17 years to assist Afghanistan in eradication efforts. But the effort has failed to stop opium production, which increased to record highs and stood at an estimated 9,000 tons in 2017. Critics blamed insecurity, rampant corruption and patronage by influential Afghans for the unprecedented growth. (VOA)