Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said during a visit to Turkmenistan that Russia is eager to forge closer ties with the secretive and authoritarian Central Asian nation.
Lavrov told Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov that Russia was ready to cooperate more closely with Turkmenistan in fighting terrorism, drug smuggling, and organized crime, according to Russian media reports.
During their talks on January 28 in Ashgabat, Berdymukhammedov said developing a transit corridor between the two countries had “big potential,” according to TASS.
The Turkmen leader also extended an invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Turkmenistan.
During talks with his Turkmen counterpart, Lavrov said Russia was ready to help Turkmenistan patrol its southern border with Afghanistan, but he added Ashgabat does not need such assistance right now.
Lavrov also said Russia and Turkmenistan were planning to increase defense and security cooperation to better ensure regional security.
According to Human Rights Watch, Turkmenistan, rich in natural gas, remains one of the world’s most repressive countries, with a disastrous human rights record.
Berdymukhammedov, reelected in 2012, his relatives, and their associates maintain unlimited control over all aspects of public life.