Tajik President: Russia remains Dushanbe's strategic partner

The Tajik president states that "Russia remains Dushanbe's strategic partner", and the deployment of anti-terrorist coalition forces in Central Asia is simply dictated by the present situation in Afghanistan.

"Tajikistan is a sovereign state and the presence of Western military forces, the American troops in particular, in the region is dictated by the situation in Afghanistan," Rakhmonov announced in the interview with "France-press" news agency on the eve of his first official visits to France and the United States.

The Tajik president welcomed the leading role of the U.S. in the fight against terrorism. He also expressed gratitude toward France for its contribution to this fight. About 120 French servicemen and several warplanes are based on a Tajik airfield to provide rear support for operations in Afghanistan.

At the same time, the head of Tajik state expressed his dissatisfaction with the fact that the military operation in Afghanistan "hasn't affected significantly the illegal drug trafficking in the region".

According to Rakhmonov, the major part of heroin from Afghanistan is transported through Tajikistan. The president emphasized that the spread of narcotics business is not less dangerous than the threat of terrorism, because the profits from illegal drug trafficking are eventually used to finance extremist organizations.

The Tajik president especially stressed the point that "if the world community is not going to help us to develop, it will later have to spend enormous funds to constantly fight against extremism, including the threats coming from our region, and also against drug trafficking." The world community promised to grant Tajikistan $1 billion dollars, but, as Rakhmonov mentioned, "only a tiny part of the promised funds has been actually disbursed".

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