US reveals new plan to battle Afghan poppy crop

The Bush administration has unveiled a multimillion-dollar strategy to fight Afghanistan's soaring poppy production amid concerns of growing links with the Taliban insurgency. The initiatives, described as an "enhanced carrot and stick approach" to supplement existing anti-drug programs, will vastly expand rewards for cutting poppy production and increase punishments for those who fail to do so, officials said Thursday. Over the next few years, between $50 million to $60 million will be spent to offer development assistance to local Afghan officials who make inroads on cutting production, adding to the current $420 million in US assistance that has boosted the number of poppy-free provinces but has failed to curb overall production.