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UN Reports Drop in Afghan Opium

The United Nations counter-narcotics chief says Afghanistan has reduced the production and cultivation of opium for the first time since the Taleban regime fell in 2001.

Antonio Maria Costa says land devoted to growing opium poppies was down 21 percent over the past year. But good weather made remaining fields more bountiful, and the harvest declined just 2.4 percent.

The UN officials says he is pleased to credit the drop to farmers' restraint - a crucial element in controlling the drug production and trafficking problem. But he says Afghanistan remains the world's biggest producer of opium, the basis of heroin.

After US-led forces toppled the fundamentalist Taleban nearly four years ago, opium production in Afghanistan surged. The international community has donated millions of dollars for drug eradication efforts.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.