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Russian Foreign Minister Says Country's HIV/AIDS Problem Is Being 'Aggravated' By U.S., NATO Refusal To Eradicate Poppy Crops In Afghanistan

Speaking on Monday at a conference on communicable diseases in the eastern Europe and Central Asia region, where AIDS is a growing problem, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made Russia’s case for poppy crop eradication by U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan asserting that the West “is aggravating the HIV/AIDS problem in Russia and the West by refusing to use its forces to destroy opium crops in Afghanistan,” Reuters reports. “Afghanistan is the world’s biggest producer of poppies used to make opium, the key ingredient in the production of heroin,” the news service writes, adding, “Russia is the largest per capita consumer of the drug and faces an HIV/AIDS epidemic that is spreading from dirty needles.” “The United States has phased out crop eradication efforts to focus instead on intercepting drugs and hunting production operations and drug lords,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, adding that the U.S. “said it made the change because drug crop eradication was putting farmers out of work, sowing resentment against foreign intervention” (10/10).

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