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Russian Military Leaders in Tajikistan to Discuss Possibility of Military Action agaist Afghanistan - 2001-09-19


Russia's chief of staff, Anatoly Kvashnin, and interior minister, Vladimir Rushailo met with Tajikistan's president, Emomali Rahmonov, in Dushanbe Wednesday.

They discussed security following last week's terrorist attacks in the United States and combat readiness along the Tajik-Afghan border.

But the Russian officials ruled out supporting any U-S military action against Afghanistan. Afghanistan is believed to be the base of Osama bin Laden, the man U-S officials consider a prime suspect in last week's attacks.

Chief of staff Kvashnin says he has not considered - and is not planning to consider - partnership in any military action against Afghanistan.

Russia has around 12-thousand troops stationed in Tajikistan. They, along with 10-thousand Tajik troops, patrol the country's 12-hundred kilometer border with Afghanistan.

There has been speculation that Washington could ask the former Soviet republics that border Afghanistan Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan - to allow the use of bases on their territory to launch attacks against Osama bin Laden.

The United States has not yet made such a request formally, but the Russian military is indicating that it is not inclined to look favorably upon NATO action in its sphere of influence in Central Asia. (Signed)

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