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Iran to continue n-talks under Khamenei’s guidance: Prez Rouhani

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Tehran: “Tehran will continue nuclear talks with the six world powers under the guidelines of supreme leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei”, President Hassan Rouhani said on Thursday.

The president said Iran sought serious talks with the P5+1 group of countries to arrive at a “fair” deal over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

“…Our issue is negotiations; we do not want to merely adopt a stance, but we are seeking serious talks and a fair understanding,” Rouhani said.

Rouhani termed the nuclear talks with the six world powers as a great political issue, saying: “Today we are seeking to consolidate the nation’s right through dialog and interaction.”

Rouhani further urged national unity and solidarity to overcome problems facing the country, including the impact of ‘cruel sanctions’ imposed on the country.

Rouhani’s remarks came as Iran and the P5+1 group — the US, Britain, France, China, and Russia plus Germany — are holding extensive talks in the Austrian city of Vienna to finalise the text of a possible deal over Tehran’s nuclear programme by the end of June.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was scheduled to travel to Vienna on Saturday to join his deputies Abbas Araqchi and Majid Takht-e-Ravanchi, who have been holding talks about the text of a possible comprehensive deal on Tehran’s nuclear programme since June 17.

US Secretary of State John Kerry would also travel to Vienna on Friday to take part in the nuclear negotiations, according to US State Department spokesman John Kirby.

The rest of P5+1 foreign ministers were also expected to join the talks in Vienna.

Iran and the P5+1 group are seeking to seal a comprehensive deal based on mutual understanding on the key parameters agreed upon in the Swiss city of Lausanne on April 2.

(IANS)

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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)