Afghan Drug 'Belt' Proposed

YEKATERINBURG -- China, India and Russia called on Thursday for the creation of a security belt around Afghanistan to halt the spread of heroin.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a joint communique on boosting links between the three countries would look at enhanced cooperation on humanitarian aid, fighting terrorism and combating drug trafficking.

"We discussed the situation around Afghanistan, where the drug threat emanates. It would help to build drug-secure belts around Afghanistan," Lavrov said after holding talks with his Chinese and Indian counterparts in this Urals city.

Afghanistan, devastated by three decades of Soviet occupation and civil war, accounts for 93 percent of world opium output, according to United Nations data.

About 90 percent of the global supply of heroin emanates in Afghanistan, with output increasing since the fall of the Taliban regime in late 2001.

One of the main drug trafficking routes from Afghanistan lies across sparsely populated Central Asia to Russia. From there Afghan drugs make their way to Europe.

Lavrov, together with his Indian and Chinese counterparts, said they wanted to boost cooperation after talks in Yekaterinburg. The city sits on a major geographic division alongside the Ural Mountains that divide Europe from Asia.