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    PUTIN: RUSSIA TO INVEST $2 BILLION IN TAJIK ECONOMY WITHIN 5 YEARS

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    DUSHANBE, October 16 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian government and private companies will invest a total $2 billion in the Tajik economy within the next five years, President Vladimir Putin said to a news conference that summed up today's Russo-Tajik negotiations.

    Such investment will be worthwhile as Tajik political developments are hopeful, the country is regaining stability, and mutual confidence is progressing, said the President.

    "We have settled our debt issues in a form that suits Tajikistan and Russia alike. Liabilities are no longer a problem-they have turn into a basis of our contacts."

    Russian-Tajik economic partnership rests on mutually lucrative arrangements leading to economic progress of the entire region. The bilateral trade turnover is adding an annual average 38%, "and we hope it will retain the rate".

    Russia has never managed, within recent years, to come with any other country upon such an all-round settlement of bilateral issues, which would offer such long-term prospects, stressed Mr. Putin.

    Upcoming establishment of a Russian military base in Tajikistan will guarantee the latter's stability. "We shall set up a base, and buttress it. That will guarantee not merely the safety of our investment but stability in Tajikistan," the President went on.

    On an available understanding, Russia will start free tuition and training of Tajik soldiers next year, he added.

    A Russian military base in Tajikistan will promote not only its own security but regional and European. "Tajikistan will come as buffer to protect Europe and other regions from terrorism, extremism and drugs," Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov said to the same news conference.

    With Russian border guards' help, Tajikistan confiscated, within a few preceding years, contraband drugs on their way to Europe to a billion dollars, on European black market prices. "We saved 22 million people from addiction," pointed out the President of Tajikistan.

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