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March 2006
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Looks a lot like legalization

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LASHKARGAH, Afghanistan (AP) – Afghanistan will encourage its powerful drug lords to invest their illegally earned profits in the war-shattered country, according to the governor of the nation’s top opium-growing region.
The offer comes amid warnings of another bumper poppy crop that will fuel a booming narcotics trade, which already accounts for 35 percent of the impoverished country’s income.
“We as a government will provide them the opportunity to use their money for the national benefit,” Helmand Gov. Mohammed Daud said during a trip to the region this week by U.S. Ambassador Ronald Neumann.
“They must invest in industries. They must invest in construction companies,” he said.
But he said that so far the government has had no success in attracting the drug traffickers to open new businesses and that most of the money is being sent overseas.

Yep. Kind of like legalization. Of course, Gov. Daud is really just looking for any way to get money. Not so long ago, he was begging the international community for more money for eradication efforts. Still, going after investment from the drug lords might be a more attractive option for Daud.
The U.S. ambassador seemed unsure how to comment, which may be a sign that U.S. hard-line diplomacy regarding Afghanistan and drugs may be running into serious difficulties.

[Thanks, Bill]

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