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    12 July 1999

    ODCCP Offers Assistance to Lebanon, Jordan in Fight Against Crime and Illicit Drugs


    VIENNA, 12 July (UN Information Service) -- Pino Arlacchi, Executive Director of the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP), has pledged further assistance to the Lebanese government in a continuing effort to stamp out illicit drug-growing and boost alternative development in the country's Bekaa Valley.

    During his visit to Lebanon from 9 to 11 July, Mr. Arlacchi met with President Emile Lahoud, Prime Minister Selim al-Hoss and Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister al-Murr as well as other top officials.

    He praised the country's efforts and achievements in the fight against crime and illicit drugs and particularly welcomed the Lebanese government's support for development in the Bekaa.

    Mr. Arlacchi pledged an additional $4 million for the third phase of an ODCCP assistance programme in the Bekaa. Over the past five years, the ODCCP has carried out a $4.7 million rural development project to spark alternative income in this valley.

    Recently, the ODCCP signed a new multi-sectoral project to provide equipment and training for the Lebanese Police Forces as well as study the extent and patterns of the country's rising drug abuse problem, so that countermeasures can be taken.

    Mr. Arlacchi also commended the country's determination to fight corruption and build public institutions based on competence, transparency and accountability. The ODCCP is currently running two projects to assist these efforts and has opened a Liaison Office for Crime Prevention in Beirut.

    From 8 to 9 July, Mr. Arlacchi visited Jordan, where he met with Prince Faisal Bin Al-Hussain, the Regent, and senior government officials. The Executive Director praised His Majesty King Abdullah II's dynamic leadership in guiding the country into the twenty-first century and protecting its youth from drugs, crimes and other social ills.

    On noting Jordan's remarkable success in combating the rise of organized crime and transit drug trafficking, the Executive Director offered to assist the country's continuing efforts to fight these rising problems.

    Officials in both Jordan and Lebanon agreed that transnational drug trafficking could only be tackled regionally and that joint efforts in combating these problems would contribute significantly to progress and stability in the Middle East.

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