Da The New York Times del 11/07/2006
Originale su http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/11/world/asia/11rumsfeld.html?_r=1&...

Rumsfeld, in Tajikistan, Urges Tough Stand Against Taliban

di David S. Cloud

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan— Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said while traveling here for talks on Monday that proceeds from the rampant narcotics trade in Central Asia were fueling the insurgency in Afghanistan, with the Taliban insurgents making common cause with heroin traffickers.

Intelligence reports indicate that Taliban militants are offering protection to Afghan drug traffickers in return for money to finance the insurgency, Mr. Rumsfeld said. “Any time there’s that much money floating around and you have people like the Taliban, it gives them an opportunity to fund their efforts,” he said.

He made the remarks while traveling to Tajikistan, an impoverished former Soviet republic and one of the main smuggling routes for heroin coming from Afghanistan. He met Monday evening with President Emomali Rahmonov and other top officials about how to strengthen security along the Afghan-Tajik border and other issues, officials said.

Mr. Rumsfeld arrived in Kabul, the Afghan capital, on Tuesday for talks with President Hamid Karzai.

Though American officials have warned for several years that the heroin trade is fueling corruption in the Afghan government, Mr. Rumsfeld’s comments indicated growing concern that the problem could be contributing to violence, particularly in the south, where the Taliban are strongest and much of the heroin is grown.

He called on governments in Russia and Europe, the destination for much of the smuggled heroin, to do more to reduce demand for drugs and to aid Mr. Karzai’s government.

“Western Europe ought to have an enormous interest in the success of Afghanistan, and it’s going to take a lot more interest on their part for the Karzai government to be successful,” he said, adding that he was worried that the drug trade “could conceivably end up adversely affecting the democratic process in the country.”

At a news conference with Mr. Rumsfeld, Tajikistan’s foreign minister, Talbak Nazarov, complained that Tajikistan “is always blamed as the country that serves as the transit point for Afghan drugs.” But seizures of drugs by the border police were up substantially this year, he said.

Britain has the main responsibility within the American-led coalition for assisting the Afghan government with counternarcotics activities. Some American officials have privately been critical of its efforts, saying it has not done enough to reduce this year’s opium poppy crop, forecast to be one of the largest ever.

[On Monday, Britain said it was sending 900 more soldiers to Helmand, the hub of the opium trade, to combat resistance from the Taliban, The Associated Press reported.]

The State Department financed a $700 million eradication effort last year, but it was plagued by delays and eliminated only a small amount of poppy acreage.

Mr. Rumsfeld acknowledged that the number of Taliban attacks may be up this year. But he said the increasingly brazen tactics had made it easier for American, Afghan and NATO forces to find them.

“Every time they come together,” he said, “they get hit and they get hurt. So the fact that we see a somewhat different method of operation during this period is correct, but it has not necessarily been disadvantageous because the more that are in one place, the easier they are to attack.”

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