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Russian, Central Asian Leaders Agree To Boost Ties

18 June 2004 -- The presidents of Russia and several other former Soviet republics today signed deals to improve economic ties and expand military cooperation.

The deals were agreed at back-to-back summits in the Kazakh capital Astana of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Eurasian Economic Community.

Speaking after the summits, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that only through integration would the nations be able to face today's challenges.

"Understanding that we can protect ourselves from today's threats and be competitive on the world's markets only by joining our efforts, we should follow the path of integration," Putin said.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization groups Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Russia. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev said the leaders of those nations have agreed to intensify military contacts.

The leaders of Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan -- which form the Eurasian Economic Community -- signed agreements on adopting unified laws, circulation of securities, and regulating banking activities. They also agreed to set unified railway tariffs on transportation of grain and other goods.

Earlier today, Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov said the countries' economic efforts have so far not provided tangible results.