Kyrgyzstan’s President Almazbek Atambaev says he and Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon have agreed to propose the construction of a major railroad when they meet on May 28 with other leaders in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
Atambaev says the railroad would connect Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan before continuing to Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, and the Persian Gulf.
The two leaders met in Bishkek on May 27 on the sidelines of the two-day CSTO talks.
Earlier, defense ministers from the post-Soviet bloc -- which groups together Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Belarus, and Armenia -- signed agreements on joint combat training and a list of military weapons required by the group.
CSTO foreign ministers also backed a Russian-U.S. initiative calling for an international peace conference on Syria.
In other developments, the Kyrgyz defense minister and current CSTO chair, Taalaybek Omuraliev, said he would seek to raise the “military potential” of the security bloc ahead of the pullout of NATO troops from Afghanistan.
Four of the six CSTO heads of state will also gather in Bishkek on May 28 for a series of informal talks focusing on regional security threats in the face of the Afghan pullout.
Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka indicated he will not attend the Bishkek summit, despite plans to join the leaders of Russia and Kazakhstan for a meeting of the Eurasian Economic Community on May 28-29 in Astana.
Lukashenka has been accused by Kyrgyz officials of harboring former Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev, who faces criminal charges at home while he has been living in Belarus with his family at Lukashenka's invitation.
Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian is reportedly also skipping the Bishkek summit.
Nikolai Bordyuzha, the secretary-general of the CSTO, said talks on May 27 also focused on issues of regional concern, including cybercrime.
"At a meeting of the committee of national security secretaries, we heard reports from representatives of CSTO border protection services and officials responsible for ensuring information security and fighting against cyberattacks and cyberincidents," Bordyuzha said. "We also discussed the fight against extremism."
With reporting by Interfax, ITAR-TASS, mail.ru, charter97.org, and washingtonpost.com