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Tajiks Seek Demining Help From EU Visitors

Tajik Foreign Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi with EU President and Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout and EU diplomat Pierre Morel (left to right) in Dushanbe on May 30.
DUSHANBE -- Tajik Foreign Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi told RFE/RL's Tajik Service that he asked a visiting EU delegation for assistance in efforts to demine areas on the Uzbek-Tajik border.

The land mines at issue were reportedly laid by Uzbek security forces last decade to prevent violence from spreading across the border during Tajikistan's civil war and subsequently to keep fighters from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) from escaping across the Tajik border.

Zarifi also told delegates that peace and stability in Afghanistan were dependant on a restoration of that country's economy and that Tajik hydroelectric power stations could supply electricity to Afghanistan once they were completed.

Zarifi added that while many Tajik students are studying at EU-based universities, the number is small and it would be desirable for EU states to raise their quotas for Tajik nationals.

The EU delegation is in the Tajik capital for discussion of its Central Asia strategy.

It is led by Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout, whose country currently holds the rotating EU Presidency.