Tajikistan says Russia is main partner, rejects foreign offers | Reuters

Posted: April 23, 2012 in Tajikistan

(Reuters) – Tajikistan, a former Soviet republic bordering Afghanistan, has rejected requests by foreign powers to allow them to set up military bases on its territory because it does not want to upset Russia, its president said on Tuesday.

Central Asia has become an important alternative transit route for shipments of non-lethal supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan but international powers have not made any public requests to open military facilities there.

Tajik President Imomali Rakhmon said he had been approached by several countries seeking permission to set up bases in his impoverished mountainous nation which also borders China.

“Russia is the main strategic partner and our natural ally, and I hope that it will always be like this,” Rakhmon said in the Tajik capital Dushanbe.

“On my desk, I have a folder containing offers from other states, promising wonders in return for opening their military bases and other facilities, but we are not even considering them,” he said, without naming the countries.

Relations between Russia and Tajikistan have deteriorated recently, particularly after a Russian pilot was jailed in Tajikistan last November, prompting speculation that Tajikistan might seek closer ties with Moscow’s rivals in the region.

The pilot and his Estonian colleague were amnestied shortly afterwards but the case has contributed to sour diplomatic ties.

NATO forces are due to pull out most of their combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and have not officially voiced any plans to stay in the region beyond that timeframe.

Russia, for its part, says it opposes a long-term Western military presence in Afghanistan while also expressing fears that the NATO pullout could contribute to the spread of drugs and Islamist militancy toward its southern borders.

via Tajikistan says Russia is main partner, rejects foreign offers | Reuters.

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