RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS WITH SENATE SPEAKER OF TAJIKISTAN

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MOSCOW, April 20 (RIA Novosti) - During their meeting on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Makhmad Saied Ubaidulloev, chairman of the upper chamber of the parliament (Medzhlis-e milli) of Tajikistan, will discuss political interaction and cooperation between the two countries.

"We are interested in considering political interaction and cooperation between our two countries in the development of agreements reached at a meeting between our presidents", Lavrov said before their meeting.

In turn, Ubaidulloev set high store by the role of Russia and, particularly, its Foreign Ministry in settling the inter-Tajik conflict. "The Russian Foreign Ministry took the most active part in the attainment of peace in our country", he stressed.

"In those times I frequented the Russian Foreign Ministry almost every day. In that building the final document settling the inter-Tajik conflict and establishing peace in our country was signed on June 27, 1997", Ubaidulloev said. (The five years of the civil war in Tajikistan between the governmental forces and the armed detachments of the United Tajik Opposition, standing for the conversion of secular Tajikistan into an Islamic state, ended with the conclusion of a peace agreement with the mediation of Russia and Iran. Leaders of the opposition have received key posts in the government and its armed detachments become part of the national army.) After that, the meeting continued behind the closed doors.

Earlier, the embassy of Tajikistan in Moscow said that in focus at the meeting was to be the practical build-up of interaction in the joint struggle against the new threats and challenges. In this context, the sides were going to exchange opinions on the situation in Afghanistan and the course of the antiterrorist operation there, the stepping up of work against Afghan drug traffic.

On Monday after the meeting with Sergei Mironov, speaker of the Federation Council, Ubaidulloev told journalists that Tajikistan is for forming a world-wide coalition against the illegal drug traffic along the lines of international antiterrorist coalition.

"Tajikistan is the third of fourth country in the world in illegal drug traffic. Our country accounts for over 60 percent of the narcotics seized from illegal traffic in the territory of the Commonwealth of Independent States and for over 90 percent in Central Asia", Ubaidulloev said in justification of forming the coalition.

The Russian side notes a positive tendency in bilateral trade-economic relations. In 2003 trade turnover between Russia and Tajikistan increased by 47.9 percent.

Also positively noted is the political interaction between Russia and Tajikistan, including within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Collective Security Treaty Organisation, Eurasian Economic Community.

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