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Iran Offers To Mediate Between Tajikistan, Uzbekistan

Sherali Khayrulloev, Tajikistan's minister of defense (right) and his Iranian counterpart, Ahmad Vahidi, in Dushanbe today
Sherali Khayrulloev, Tajikistan's minister of defense (right) and his Iranian counterpart, Ahmad Vahidi, in Dushanbe today
DUSHANBE -- Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said in Dushanbe today that Iran is ready to try to alleviate tensions between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan at their request, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reported.

Vahidi, who is on a two-day official visit to Tajikistan, identified Dushanbe's commitment to completing construction of the Roghun hydroelectic power station as a point of contention between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Uzbek officials have strongly protested the Roghun project as taking too much water away from Uzbekistan, which needs it for agricultural use.

Vahidi said Tajikistan and Uzbekistan should try to improve bilateral relations as regional development is contingent on cooperation between all regional states.

He acknowledged that Tajikistan's water resources could enable it to generate electricity for export to neighboring countries. He is scheduled to visit the Sangtuda-2 hydroelectric power station that is under construction in southern Tajikistan. Iran is financing that project.

Vahidi met in Dushanbe today with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and his Tajik counterpart, Colonel General Sherali Khayrulloyev. He described military cooperation between Iran and Tajikistan as satisfactory, adding that unspecified new developments in bilateral relations provide an opportunity to activate unused potential.

Noting persistent instability in Afghanistan, Vahidi advocated three-way cooperation between Iran, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan in combating drug trafficking and terrorism.

Military cooperation between Tajikistan and Iran began in 1997. Iran has offered scholarships for Tajik officers to study at Iranian military
universities and also helped Tajikistan to build a factory that makes military uniforms.

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