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Tajik-Russian Military Talks Fail To Yield Agreement

Tajik Foreign Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi
Tajik Foreign Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi
DUSHANBE -- Tajik Foreign Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi says Tajikistan and Russia have not yet agreed on the continued presence of a Russian military base and use of an air base in Tajikistan, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Zarifi said on July 18 that the talks with Moscow about the continued use of the military base, near the Ayni air base in the southeastern Dushanbe suburbs, began in 2008.

Russia has an agreement to use the base, where some 5,000-7,000 troops are stationed, without payment until 2014.

"Tajik territory is not the personal property of the foreign minister or the defense minister and it has its value," he told journalists. He said Tajik territory cannot be used by a foreign military free of charge.

Russian and Tajik officials are discussing an extension of Russia's use of the two bases, but for a fee.

On another issue, Zarifi ruled out the return of Russian border guards to the Tajik-Afghan border, which they controlled until 2005.

He said an agreement on the presence of Russian border-guard advisers, who are currently working in Tajikistan, could be prolonged during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's planned visit to Dushanbe in September.

Russia also has military units in Qurghonteppa and Kulob.