Asia Pacific

Russia to help Tajikistan build outpost on Afghan border -report

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MOSCOW, July 23 (Reuters) - Russia will help its ally Tajikistan build a new outpost on the Tajik-Afghan border, a senior Russian diplomat said, amid worsening conflict in Afghanistan as U.S.-led troops withdraw after a 20-year intervention.

"An intergovernmental agreement is now being prepared for signing on the provision of aid to Tajikistan for the construction of a border outpost," Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko told RIA news agency late on Thursday.

Russia operates a military base in Tajikistan, a fellow ex-Soviet republic, whose government has expressed concern about the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.

Hundreds of Afghan servicemen crossed the border into Tajikistan earlier this month in retreat from an offensive by Taliban insurgents who, taking advantage of the foreign troop pullout, have seized a series of districts and border posts.

Tajikistan later sent back the Afghan servicemen as the Kabul government arranged special flights to return them.

Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, another Central Asian republic bordering Afghanistan, will hold joint military drills close to the Tajik-Afghan border next month. Moscow has already started delivering new hardware to its Tajik base to reinforce it. read more

Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov Editing by Mark Heinrich

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