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Diplomacy in Action

Drug Control Service


Press Availability
William R. Brownfield
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
U.S. Embassy
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
June 28, 2011

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Question: Can you please share with us what kind of issues you have discussed during your meetings today?

Assistant Secretary Brownfield: Of course, and I thank you for the question.

I’ve had the pleasure of having meetings today with the President, with the Prime Minister, with the Vice Prime Minister, and with the distinguished Chairman of the National Drug Control Agency. We have discussed the excellent drug cooperation that has existed for years between the government of Kyrgyzstan and the United States. We are proud of our cooperation on matters of border control, police training, police academies, forensic laboratories, equipment, vehicles, election security. We have an excellent record of cooperation.

Today we discussed the possibility of a regional plan to provide cooperation among all five of the countries of Central Asia. This plan would include cooperation by the Russian Federation to the north and from Afghanistan to the south. Ladies and gentlemen, Kyrgyzstan is a victim of its geography. It is a country located between the world’s largest heroin producer and an enormous market for heroin to the north. The problem is a regional problem. It requires a regional solution. And my government would be honored to support and participate in that solution.

Question: How do you estimate, what are your assessments about the drug situation in Central Asia and in particular in Kyrgyzstan?

Assistant Secretary Brownfield: The Chairman is in a better position than me to offer a detailed response. My own belief is that the flow of heroin and opium product from Afghanistan to the north has grown over the last five years. I also believe that over the last two years the cultivation of opium poppy and the production of heroin in Afghanistan has decreased slightly.

I believe the heroin product departs Afghanistan through three principal routes. Pakistan to the east, Iran to the west, and Central Asia to the north. I believe that the trafficking of this product through Kyrgyzstan and through Central Asia represents a danger to all of the communities of Central Asia. The danger is very simple. The narcotics traffickers pay their network in product. They do not pay in cash. They pay by leaving heroin in the hands of their network and those people then must sell their product. So a transit nation eventually becomes a consumer nation.

Question: Is it true that the United States government has [inaudible] into the list of world-scale drug traffickers? If it’s true, what was the basis or justification for adding him to this blacklist?

Assistant Secretary Brownfield: Under United States law, there is a sanction that we refer to in the United States as the Kingpin Act. This is a determination made by the Departments of State, Justice, and Treasury of the United States government. The individuals designated on this list are those who are believed to be engaged in narcotics trafficking and illicit finance at an extremely great level. It is not a decision based upon the country or the government or the society or the culture. In fact often the designated person no longer even lives in his home country. But when the United States government includes the name of an individual in this list, we are saying that we believe he is a very big, very important narcotics trafficker.

Question: You mentioned about the mechanics of cooperation with Russia and with Afghanistan. What does it mean? Say it please with details. Do you mean the creation of a center in Kyrgyzstan [inaudible] with Russia?

Assistant Secretary Brownfield: I am describing a plan that would involve eight different governments and two different international organizations. I cannot offer many details until we have heard from all of those governments and those two organizations. You are asking me for the final score of a football game when we are only in the second minute of the game. But I will offer you the following suggestions.

First, most of the heroin product comes from Afghanistan. Therefore, most of the operational intelligence would come from Afghanistan as well.

Second, the five governments of Central Asia already cooperate in the organization CARICC. So logically any increased coordination and cooperation could be processed through CARICC and through the UNODC.

Third, the Russian Federation and the United States of America have law enforcement interest and activities in the region. We are searching for a mechanism that would allow us to cooperate with the five governments of Central Asia and Afghanistan. I am exploring the possibility of creating special task forces in each of the five countries that could serve as the mechanism for coordination and cooperation.

That is the best detail I can give you at this point. For more you will have to wait until we have finished talking to all of the governments and both of the international organizations.

Question: As you are aware. The United States announced the forces will start leaving Afghanistan by 2014. In this regard do you expect increase or decrease in drug trafficking coming out of Afghanistan?

Assistant Secretary Brownfield: I do not have a crystal ball so I cannot foretell the future. It is my hope that we have made and will continue to make progress in controlling the production and trafficking of illicit drugs from Afghanistan. We are working closely with the Afghan government to reduce cultivation and to attack the organizations that are producing illicit opium products.

We see some good results even today. I am hopeful that by the year 2014 we will see that the threat of illicit drugs from Afghanistan has diminished substantially. I will be even more certain of this if we succeed in a plan for greater cooperation between the five countries of Central Asia, the Russian Federation, Afghanistan and the United States.

Question: Does the U.S. government carry out any cooperation with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. What’s your opinion of this?

Assistant Secretary Brownfield: We are not members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, but we respect the organization and the work that they do. We would welcome greater effort and greater attention by the members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to the risk and the danger of illicit drugs and narcotics trafficking. That would be fully consistent with my concept of a plan for greater cooperation in the region.

Our proposal is not exclusive. Illicit drugs affect all of our countries and all of our peoples. We would welcome any enhanced efforts by any government, any country, or any organization to address the drug trafficking threat.

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