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Russian-Tajik Military Base Deal Won't Be Signed Until 2013

Russian General Vladimir Chirkin
Russian ground forces commander General Vladimir Chirkin has the Ekho Moskvy radio station that a deal extending Russian forces' use of bases in Tajikistan would not be ready to sign until the first half of 2013.

Chirkin said on September 29 that the two countries needed more time for consultations and to agree on conditions for Russia's 201st Division to stay an additional 49 years after current agreements for base use expire in 2014.

Russian troops, stationed there since just after World War II, had been using the bases for free since the collapse of the U.S.S.R.

Chirkin indicated that Tajikistan wants material aid from Russia as part of an extension agreement.

Russia's president is due to visit Tajikistan on October 5, but Chirkin said the "heads of state" would sign the deal next year.

With reporting by Interfax