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German Foreign Minister Urges Tajik Reforms

Frank-Walter Steinmeier (file photo) (epa) DUSHANBE, November 3, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has called on political leaders to press ahead with steps to modernize Tajikistan, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Addressing reporters after talks with President Imomali Rakhmonov, Steinmeier said he also discussed the situation in neighboring Iran and Afghanistan with his Tajik interlocutors.

"Worries exist here [in Tajikistan], just as they exist in Europe, over the unresolved nuclear conflict in Iran," Steinmeier said. "And we will both make efforts -- because of our similar interests -- to stabilize the region in Afghanistan, which until now has been without sufficient success, but we cannot allow that to dampen our ambition."

Steinmeier said Tajik officials pressed him for more Western assistance to help them cope with drug trafficking from Afghanistan.

Germany is due to take over the European Union's rotating presidency on January 1.

The German minister, who is on a weeklong tour of Central Asia, is scheduled to
visit Kyrgyzstan later today.

(with dpa, AP)