Tajikistan today opened a festival showcasing Iranian culture that will continue through March 27, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
As part of the "Days of Culture of the Islamic Republic of Iran," a 120-person Iranian delegation headed by Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Seyed Mohammad Hosseini is in Dushanbe and will travel later to the northern city of Khujand.
Tajik Culture Ministry representative Abdughaffor Abdujabbor told RFE/RL that the rationale for holding the exhibition in Tajikistan was to strengthen ties and cooperation in different fields between peoples who share a common language and culture.
He said the festival includes conferences; shows, and exhibitions of photos, clothes, and books; and performances of various plays, including "Rustam and Isfandiyor," based on the "Shahname" of the Persian classical poet Ferdousi.
Iran and Tajikistan have close political, economic, and cultural relations. The two countries' leaders often support each other on the international stage. Iran has invested millions of dollars in the construction of a strategic tunnel linking southern and northern Tajikistan and of a hydropower plant on the Vakhsh River.
At the same time Tajikistan, a secular state that professes Sunni Islam, cautiously limits religious ties with predominantly Shi'ite Iran. More than 1,200 Tajiik students at Islamic universities abroad were recalled home last year, including some 130 from Iran.
Tajik authorities also cancelled several planned trips to Iran last year by Tajik students, teachers, and scholars.