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Tajikistan to cooperate with anti-terror coalition

Country's offer doesn't include specific measures

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan (CNN) -- Tajikistan's president said Saturday that the Central Asian nation is prepared to cooperate with the United States and other countries in fighting terrorism but didn't say what kind of help would be provided.

President Emomali Rakhmonov, speaking to the annual congress of the Tajik People's Democratic Party, expressed "solidarity" with the American people and said those responsible for the attacks "will be hunted down and punished."

Tajikistan is one of three former Soviet republics that sit along Afghanistan's northern border. The others are Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

He said the country expressed its "willingness to cooperate with the international community, including the U.S. government, in the fight against international terrorism and extremism."

But Rakhmonov didn't say what kind of cooperation there would be or whether U.S. forces would be permitted to set up bases in the country or to use air corridors over Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the attacks on New York and Washington, is believed to be based.

Russia -- which commands troops in Tajikistan to control drugs and militants from Afghanistan -- has made it clear that it wouldn't welcome U.S. troops in Tajikistan, where Russia is still influential.

Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan issued statements this week saying each country has not made any agreements to allow U.S. forces access to their territory or airspace.

While saying "retribution must be meted out," Uzbek President Islam Karimov denied reports this week that his country had pledged to allow the United States access to its territory and airspace for strikes against bin Laden's bases in Afghanistan, according to the Interfax news agency.

Turkmenistan, which borders Afghanistan on the northwest, said Wednesday that it has not received any official inquiries of appeals from other countries to let its territory be used for combating international terrorism, according to a Turkmenistan Foreign Ministry statement reported by Interfax.

"The neutral status of Turkmenistan recognized by the United Nations and the international commitments undertaken by the republic prompt its actions on the international arena in strict accordance with the U.N. Charter," the statement said.





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