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President Vladimir Putin says Russia is working on strengthening its military base in Tajikistan to boost regional security as the situation escalates in Afghanistan.

During a meeting with his Tajik counterpart Emomali Rahmon on May 8, Putin also said that Russia helps to “strengthen Tajikistan’s armed forces.”

Rahmon raised concerns over the rising tensions in neighboring Afghanistan since the United States’ announcement last month that it will pull out all remaining American troops by September 11.

“I know you are concerned about this situation… For our part, we are doing everything we can to support you,” Putin told Rahmon.

Tajikistan hosts about 7,000 troops from Russia’s 201st Motor Rifle Division that are stationed in three facilities.

Tajikistan, one the poorest former Soviet countries, has close economic ties with Russa as hundreds of thousands of Tajiks work in Russia to support families at home.

Rahmon was in Moscow to attend Victory Day ceremonies on May 9 to mark 76th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Russia and many other former Soviet countries commemorate the May 9 anniversary with parades and celebrations.

Rahmon, who has ruled Tajikistan with an iron since 1992, maintains close relations with Moscow.

Based on reporting by Reuters and TASS