Iran seeks closer military ties with Tajikistan

Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi will arrive on Wednesday to Tajikistan on an official visit aimed at expanding military contacts between the two countries. The agenda of the visit includes talks with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon, Defense Minister Sherali Khairullayev and other state officials on issues related to the bilateral military and military-technical cooperation. "Military and military-technical cooperation between our defense ministries has been developing since 1997 and it is one of the key areas of brotherly relations between Tajikistan and Iran," a spokesman for the Tajik Defense Ministry said on Tuesday. Iran, which faces strong opposition from the West over its controversial nuclear program, has long been seeking support from Muslim countries. During his visit to Tajikistan in January 2010, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for further expansion of cooperation between the two countries saying that "under the current global circumstances, countries like Iran and Tajikistan should side with each other more than before." However, military agreements with Russia currently bind Tajikistan, preventing the Central Asian country from pursuing greater cooperation with Iran. Tajikistan is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a post-Soviet security bloc comprising Russia and the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.

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