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Visiting Putin Gifts Sniper Rifle To Tajik President

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon during a welcoming ceremony in Dushanbe on October 5.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has presented Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon with a sniper rifle as a birthday gift as talks on military-base rights got under way in Dushanbe.

Putin gave the gift to mark Rahmon's 60th birthday as the two met to discuss bilateral relations, including trade and energy cooperation.

Rahmon described Russia as his country's strategic partner.

The fate of a Russian military base in Tajikistan was expected to dominate the October 5 meeting.

Russia's lease on the base expires in 2014.

Russia has not paid any fees to use the facility.

Putin reportedly wants to extend that deal for another 49 years.

But officials in Tajikistan reportedly have demanded that Moscow pay $250 million a year to continue using the base.

With some 7,000 troops stationed at the facility, it is Russia's largest military installation on foreign soil.

Based on reporting by Interfax, ITAR-TASS