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Tajikistan Could Offer Airspace To U-S Anti-Terrorism Campaign - 2001-11-03


Tajikistan says it could allow U-S use of its airspace and an air field in the campaign against terrorism.

After a meeting between U-S Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Tajik President Emomali Rahmonov in Dushanbe today (Saturday), Tajik Foreign Minister Talbak Nazarov said experts should look at what the country can offer, including the condition of Kulyab airport, about 120 kilometers from the Afghanistan border.

But Mr. Rumsfeld stressed no agreement with the Tajiks had been reached. Takjikistan's assistance has been sought because the country shares a border with Afghanistan, where U-S forces are looking for Osama bin Laden and seeking to topple the Taleban government.

After his short stay in Tajikistan, Mr. Rumsfeld has arrived in Uzbekistan, where a base has been provided for about 1,000 U-S troops.

In Moscow earlier he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, to discuss concrete forms of Russian anti-terrorism assistance. The two sides also talked about U-S plans to build a missile defense system and to possibly scrap the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty -- a move Moscow has opposed in the past.

While Secretary Rumsfeld provided no details of the meeting, Mr. Ivanov remarked that he agrees in part that the pact is a relic of the Cold War. The Russian minister then went on to say that all U-S/Russian agreements are relics of that conflict, as is NATO.

Mr. Rumsfeld's discussions also included the possibility of bilateral cuts in nuclear warhead arsenals, something President Putin has proposed for some time. The Russian leader has said before that perhaps both countries could lower their numbers to some two thousand warheads apiece.

The U-S Defense Secretary's Moscow trip was intended to pave the way for the summit between Presidents Bush and Putin scheduled to begin on November 13.

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