World Bulletin/News Desk
Russia and Tajikistan are “very close” to signing an agreement extending Russia’s lease of a military base in the Central Asian state, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said.
Talks on the extension of the lease, which expires in 2014, came into a deadlock earlier this year as the sides could not agree on the length of the new lease and the payment terms.
“I can say that the main issues have either been resolved or are close to being resolved,” Shuvalov told reporters on Friday after a meeting with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon.
“There will be no unresolved issues left after the expert reports to the presidents have been submitted…The final decision will be made by the presidents because without their political will these issues can never be settled,” Shuvalov said.
A total of 7,000 Russian troops are stationed at three military facilities collectively known as the 201st military base - in Dushanbe, the southwestern city of Qurgonteppa some 100 km from Dushanbe, and Kulob, about 200 km to the southwest of the capital.
The base was opened in 2004 and hosts Russia’s largest military contingent deployed abroad.
Moscow planned to extend the lease of the base for 49 years, but Dushanbe proposed to cut the extension to 10 years. Tajik authorities also demanded that Russia pay at least $250 million a year for the lease.
Under the current agreements Russia does not pay Tajikistan for its military base, but renders the country military and technical assistance.
Shuvalov did not specify the terms of the new agreement.