DUSHANBE, October 6, 2012, Asia-Plus -- Tajikistan and Russia have signed an agreement extending the presence of Russian military base in Tajikistan until 2042.

On Friday October 5, Tajik Minister of Defense Sherali Khairulloyev and his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov signed here an agreement allowing Russian troops to stay at a military base in Tajikistan until 2042.

At a joint press conference with is Russian counterpart, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon noted that Russia would assist Tajikistan with modernization of its armed forces.

According to him, the Russian side takes responsibility for the modernization and technical renovation of Tajikistan''s Armed Forces, and the strengthening of its material and technical property with modern arms.

“The Russian side will also assist in preparation of military personnel and improvement of other spheres in Tajikistan''s defense sector,” Tajik leader said.

Noting that the agreement fixing the conditions of the Russian military base’s stay in Tajikistan is the key document, Russian president Vladimir Putin said the deal would help preserve both countries’ strategic interests.

Yuri Ushakov, an aide to the Russian president for international affairs, told journalists that Russia would pay “a symbolic sum” to extend the lease.

We will recall that Russia''s lease on the base expires in 2014. Tajikistan and Russia have been negotiating the issue of the presence of Russia''s 201st Motorized Rifle Division for some time now.  Russia''a 201st Division and its approximately 7,500 troops use a total of three Tajik bases near Dushanbe and in the southern cities of Kulob and Qurghon Teppa.  It is the largest deployment of Russian troops abroad.