Tuesday, April 24, 2012 -
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon has ordered his negotiators to quicken the pace on securing a deal that would extend Moscow’s military presence in Tajikistan, Russia’s top foreign minister said on Tuesday.
Tajikistan’s leader gave the necessary instructions to "speed up the negotiation process," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a group of journalists in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital, the Associated Press (AP) news agency reported.
Lavrov added that the two sides have not yet set a date to sign the agreement.
Russia is looking to extend the leases on its three military bases in the country by 49 years.
Dushanbe is seeking annual payment of around $300 million in cash or military assistance to continue hosting Russia’s garrisons.
But Russia is pressing for a much smaller amount.
Moscow also wants its troops to man Tajikistan’s poorly monitored mountainous borders.
While impoverished Tajikistan wants Russian security, it is put out by the thought that foreign troops on Tajik borders will erode its national sovereignty.
But Dushanbe is worried that civil strife in neighboring Afghanistan may spill over the Tajik border after 2014 when NATO troops are scheduled to leave the conflict-ridden South Asian country.
Lavrov also held meetings with other senior officials in Tajikistan.
The Russian minister also urged Tajikistan to continue dialogue with its neighbor Uzbekistan.
“We want to see truly good-neighborly relations between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan,” the Avesta.tj news agency reported Lavrov as saying.
“The only way to solve the problem is a constructive dialogue” but there has been no such attempt thus far, he added.