Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the media.
I am Bill Brownfield, the Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. I have just completed an excellent conversation with the President of the Republic. And earlier today I had the pleasure of meetings with the Ministry of the Interior, with the Drug Control Agency, and the National Border Guard Service.
With the President of the Republic, we had the opportunity to discuss the excellent cooperation that we have enjoyed between our two nations for years. We discussed how our cooperation has protected peoples of Tajikistan, the people of the United States of America, our communities, our children. And we discussed how we can cooperate further and better in the future. We look forward to continued excellent cooperation between Tajikistan and the United States, and I look forward to your questions.
QUESTION: Please tell us what specific assistance will the United States provide in terms of combating drug trafficking and protecting border security?
ANSWER: The United States is already cooperating with Tajikistan in a number of areas. We are working together in strengthening the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. We are working together in terms of providing training and hi-tech equipment. We are working to support special units that are involved in counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism. And we are supporting programs to train prosecutors and defenders and work within the rule of law system. We expect to continue all of these programs.
But we discussed as well how we can cooperate better in the region of Central Asia. I explained to the President that I am in a regional trip this week to Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, today, Tajikistan, and tomorrow I will be in the Russian Federation in Moscow. And we look forward to working together on a regional plan and a regional initiative to attack narcotics trafficking throughout Central Asia.
QUESTION: Do you have any plans in expanding cooperation in the future with Tajikistan?
ANSWER: Obviously this is a matter for the decision of the sovereign government of the Republic of Tajikistan. We will support the priorities of the Government of Tajikistan. If we have additional resources made available, we will support them even more. And we will continue to work with other international partners, governments, and international organizations, trying to work together, to support Tajikistan's security and counter-narcotics objectives. I hope by the time of my next visit to Dushanbe, I will be able to talk to you about new cooperation and additional support.
QUESTION: Is the United States planning on expanding its anti-drug activities in Afghanistan in view of the small seizures of drugs there?
ANSWER: We cannot discuss counter-narcotics cooperation with Tajikistan without incorporating Afghanistan in the dialogue. We are engaged in a very aggressive effort together with the Government of Afghanistan to reduce cultivation of opium poppy and the production of heroin and opium. We have had some positive results.
The Government of Tajikistan reports a reduction in the flow of Afghan heroin across its borders into Tajikistan. Our own statistics indicate that opium and heroin have been reduced dramatically in two key provinces in Afghanistan. Poppy cultivation and Helmand province and Kandahar province have reduced greatly this year. The Afghan government has conducted many successful operations against narcotics traffickers and laboratories. This is good news, good news for Tajikistan, and good news for the United States of America. And we hope to be able to report more good news of this nature by the time of my next visit to Tajikistan.