President Putin sets off for Tajikistan for 3 regional summits

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Russian President Vladimir Putin will arrive in Tajikistan Friday for a three-day visit to take part in summits of three regional organizations, a presidential aide said.
NOVOSIBIRSK/DUSHANBE, October 5 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Vladimir Putin will arrive in Tajikistan Friday for a three-day visit to take part in summits of three regional organizations, a presidential aide said.

Sergei Prikhodko said Putin will take part in a session of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Heads of State Council, a session of the Eurasian Economic Community (Eurasec) Intergovernmental Council and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Council.

The aide said all presidents from the CIS member states have confirmed their participation, except for Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko, who will be represented by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk.

The presidents will meet on Friday for a session of the CIS Council, while on Saturday they will gather for the session of the Eurasec Intergovernmental Council in the morning and the CSTO Council in the afternoon.

Prikhodko said each session on Friday and Saturday will be followed by the signing of multilateral agreements and news conferences.

President Putin, he said, will also hold a number of bilateral meetings, including with his counterparts from Tajikistan and Belarus, and possibly with Mikheil Saakashvili, the president of Georgia.

Putin, who will be celebrating his 55th birthday Sunday, is expected to discuss with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko issues concerning the Russia-Belarus Union State.

The ex-Soviet neighbors declared their intention to build a Union State, with a common economic, customs, and political space, in 1997. But the process has been largely stalled over a host of issues, including disagreement on a common currency, taxation, as well as energy-pricing disputes.

Prikhodko said Putin will also meet with the summit host, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon, who will also celebrate his 55th birthday on Sunday.

"They will discuss issues of two countries' cooperation within the framework of integrated organizations, namely the CIS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization [SCO], Eurasec and the CSTO, as well as issues of military and military-technical cooperation, interaction in the energy sector, the situation in the Central Asian region and the situation with Afghanistan," the presidential aide said.

Tajikistan has an acute problem with the narcotics trade, due to the constant flow of illegal drugs from neighboring Afghanistan, which supplies over 90% of the world's heroin.

Heroin production in Afghanistan has increased 20-fold since the Taliban was toppled by allied forces in December 2001. Tajikistan is now a transit country for Afghan narcotics bound for Russian and European markets.

The presidential aide added that President Putin will be accompanied in Tajikistan by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Naryshkin, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, acting Security Council Secretary Valentin Sobolev, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev and other high-ranking officials.

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