Iran Offers To Mediate Between Tajikistan, Uzbekistan



DUSHANBE -- Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said in Dushanbe today that Iran is ready to try to alleviate tensions between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan at their request, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reported.

Vahidi, who is on a two-day official visit to
Tajikistan, identified Dushanbe's commitment to completing construction of the Roghun hydroelectric power station as a point of contention between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Uzbek officials have strongly protested the Roghun project as taking too much water away from
Uzbekistan, which needs it for agricultural use.

Vahidi said
Tajikistan and Uzbekistan should try to improve bilateral relations as regional development is contingent on cooperation between all regional states.

He acknowledged that
Tajikistan's water resources could enable it to generate electricity for export to neighboring countries. He is scheduled to visit the Sangtuda-2 hydroelectric power station that is under construction in southern Tajikistan. Iran is financing that project.

Vahidi met in
Dushanbe today with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and his Tajik counterpart, Colonel General Sherali Khayrulloyev. He described military cooperation between Iran and Tajikistan as satisfactory, adding that unspecified new developments in bilateral relations provide an opportunity to activate unused potential.

Noting persistent instability in
Afghanistan, Vahidi advocated three-way cooperation between Iran, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan in combating drug trafficking and terrorism.

Military cooperation between
Tajikistan and Iran began in 1997. Iran has offered scholarships for Tajik officers to study at Iranian military universities and also helped Tajikistan to build a factory that makes military uniforms.