Russian President Vladimir Putin has said in the midst of a three-nation tour of Central Asia that he has agreed with Tajikistan's president to jointly bolster security along the Tajik-Afghan border.
Putin told reporters in Dushanbe on February 27 after his talks with President Emomali Rahmon that "Tajikistan is a key country" for regional security in Central Asia.
Putin said he and Rahmon agreed to "step up joint efforts to defend the Tajik-Afghan border, using capacities of the Russian military base located in Tajikistan."
He also said Russian forces are based in Tajikistan "to provide security for both Tajikistan and the southern frontiers of the Russian Federation."
About 7,000 troops from Russia's 201st Motor Rifle Division are stationed at three facilities in Tajikistan that are considered part of a single Russian base.
One facility is near Dushanbe and the other facilities are in the southern cities of Kulob and Qurghon-Teppa.
Earlier on February 27, Putin met in Almaty with Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev where he praised Kazakhstan's role at recent talks in Astana aimed at finding a resolution of Syria's six-year war.
Putin said Kazakhstan "has played a positive role, not only as a host and organizer of the event, but had, in fact, influenced the positive results of the Astana gathering."
Nazarbaev said that a quarter-century after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia is now Kazakhstan's "number one economic and political partner."
Nazarbaev said Moscow and Astana have "established exemplary ties that should be between friendly neighboring countries."
The 76-year-old Nazarbaev has been in power since before the Soviet collapse in 1991.
In late January, Nazarbaev said he would delegate some of his sweeping powers to parliament and the cabinet.
Those moves have raised questions about an eventual transition of power in the oil-rich, tightly controlled country.
Russia is vying for influence in Central Asia with China, which also borders Kazakhstan and has been increasing its regional influence in recent years.
Putin is scheduled to complete his two-day visit to Central Asia with a visit to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on February 28.
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