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Tajikistan, Russia Discuss New Deal On Guarding Afghan Border

Tajik border guards patrolling the Tajik-Afghan border on the Panj River outside the city of Panj
DUSHANBE -- Tajik and Russian border guards are discussing a new draft agreement on control of the Tajik-Afghan border, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Khushnud Rahmatulloev, a spokesman for the Tajik State Committee for National Security's border-guard forces, told RFE/RL on February 17 that when Russian border guards left Tajikistan in 2005 the two sides signed a five-year cooperation agreement that has now expired.

Rahmatulloev said the private negotiations are led by the head of Tajik border-guard forces, Sherali Mirzoev, and Anatoly Mikheev, the commander of Russian border officials in Tajikistan.

Rahmatulloev stressed that all rumors that Russian border guards will again be deployed to guard the southern border with Afghanistan are without foundation.

Russian border guards controlled the Tajik-Afghan border for more than 100 years before handing over responsibility to their Tajik colleagues in 2005. But Russian advisers continue to be deployed on Tajikistan's borders.

The current negotiations focus on the status and tasks of those Russian border-guard advisers.

In the past few years, senior Russian officials have said on several occasions that they are concerned by the increase in drug smuggling across the Tajik-Afghan border, and added that Russian border guards are ready to return to Tajikistan to help stem drug trafficking.

But the Tajiks replied that border control has improved since 2005 and there is no need for the return of the Russian guards. The border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan covers some 1,400 kilometers.

Read more in Tajik here