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16 Sep, 2022 14:57

Leaders of ex-Soviet republics agree on troop pullback

Border skirmishes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan reportedly continued shortly after a deal to withdraw forces was reached
Leaders of ex-Soviet republics agree on troop pullback

The leaders of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan met on Friday and agreed to withdraw their troops and cease hostilities amid an ongoing border flare-up between their countries.

Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov and his Tajik counterpart Emomali Rahmon met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit underway in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

“The parties discussed the situation on the Kyrgyz-Tajik part of the state border. The leaders of the two countries agreed to order the respective forces to cease fire and withdraw troops and hardware from the line of contact,” a spokesperson for the Kyrgyz president told RIA Novosti in a statement. 

The two leaders also agreed to set up a joint commission to investigate the triggers of the latest border flare-up. 

The truce, however, was apparently short-lived, as some two hours after the agreement was reached, the Kyrgyz border guard accused the neighboring country of continuing the attacks.

“Breaching the reached agreement, the Tajik side has yet again opened fire on the Kyrgyz border guard,” the guard's press service said in a statement, claiming that Tajik troops had used heavy weaponry, including multiple rocket launch systems to shell the country’s territory. 

The two Central Asian nations have experienced border tensions over the past few days and have traded blame for the latest renewal of a long-running conflict. Early on Friday, the skirmishes escalated into full-blown fighting involving the use of heavy weapons, as tanks and artillery were reportedly deployed at the border by both sides.

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have engaged in repeated border clashes since gaining independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The two nations share a 1,000km border, the demarcation of which they are unable to full agree on.