Tajikistan, Russia seek base lease deal

Talks on continued use of a base in Tajikistan by the Russian military are still in progress and agreement on a new, market-based lease of the facility will strengthen ties between the two countries, an adviser to Tajikistan’s president said Wednesday.

“Negotiations between the two sides on extending the [Russian military] presence in Tajikistan beyond 2014 are currently being held at the working-group level,” Sukhrob Sharipov, director of the presidential Center for Strategic Studies in Dushanbe, told RIA Novosti.

He said both sides agreed that it was time to review the terms of Russia’s use of the base and now only the details of a new agreement had to be worked out.

“Russia pays Armenia and Kyrgyzstan for its military bases and it is a normal practice in the world to pay for the services provided,” Sharipov said.

He denied earlier Russian media reports that Tajikistan was seeking $300 million from Russia to extend the use of the base, saying that “this figure was taken from nowhere and no one knows who the official was who cited it.”

A total of 7,000 Russian troops are serving at three Russian military units in Dushanbe, the southwestern city of Qurgonteppa some 100 km from Dushanbe, and Kulob, about 200 km to the southwest of the capital. Russian troops in Tajikistan constitute the Moscow’s largest ground force deployed abroad.

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