May 4, 1976.
- Amembassy KABUL
- Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan
Department of State
4 May 76
ACTION: SECSTATE WASHDC
INFO: USMISSION GENEVA
E.O. 11652: GDS
TAGS: SNAR, AF
- When Desk Officer Austrian and I saw Deputy Foreign Minister Abdullah on May 2, we hit him hard on the subject of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. We mentioned that his UNFDAC Director de Beus and his UN colleague Michael Davies during their recent visit to Nangarhar Province had noted a great increase in poppy cultivation in that area,compared to the same period 12 months ago. Austrian said that he had counted 106 poppy fields of varying sizes in the Kandhar-Lashkargah-Kajakai area (not, however, in U.S. project areas) earlier this week. We stressed that not only was Afghan poppy cultivation contributing to serious human problems wherever the opium was consumed but that the fact that poppy cultivation is not being controlled would sooner or later become public knowledge and would have an adverse effect on our ability to maintain our [Page 2]economic assistance to Afghanistan. In this connection, Austrian cited various pieces of proposed legislation on this subject introduced in Congressional committees. We urged Abdullah to do something about this problem quickly.
- In response, Abdullah began by referring to the difficulty of convincing farmers to stop growing poppies unless they can make an equivalent income from other crops. We told him that in areas such as the Helmand Valley it should be possible to convince farmers that the Government is doing enough for them through economic development programs so that they need not grow poppies.
- Abdullah also said that one of the problems facing Afghanistan is the existence of criminal elements in the United States, Western Europe and Iran which traffic in opium. He urged us to crack down on these elements. He also pointed with pride at Afghan efforts in recent months to crack down on smuggling within Afghanistan.
- Finally, Abdullah said that he recognized the seriousness of this problem and would discuss it with the Ministers of Agriculture and Interior to see what could be done.
- DCM and AID Director have made parallel approaches to the Director-General of the Foreign Ministry and the Governor of the Helmand Province. The Governor, when [Page 3]told of poppy growing in U.S. project areas, took immediate steps too eradicate the plants.
- The U.S. Mission’s Narcotics Committee is beginning a series to meetings to improve our present data base on poppy culture and develop recommendations for further action in the prevention area.
- Source: National Archives, RG 84, Kabul Embassy Files: Lot 79 F 132, Subject Files, Box 133, SOC 11-5, Cables 1976. Confidential. It was drafted and approved by Eliot; and cleared in draft by POL; cleared by NEA/PAB and Curran (DCM).↩
- Ambassador Theodore Eliot reported his May 2 discussion with Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Abdullah on opium poppy cultivation and the importance of eradication in U.S. project areas.↩