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India to provide choppers to Tajikistan

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An unrelated photo of IAF's Mi-17 V5 armed helicopter. A PTI Photo.

NEW DELHI (PTI): India will soon provide medium-lift choppers to Tajikistan and dedicate a hospital there as part of efforts to build on the strategic ties between the two countries against the backdrop of US-led troops preparing to pull out from Afghanistan in 2014.

The 50-bed hospital would be inaugurated by Indian Defence Minister A K Antony who is expected to visit there next month, Defence Ministry officials said.

The decision to provide the Russian-origin Mi-series choppers and build a hospital in Tajikistan were taken during the visit of its President Emomali Rahmon's visit to India last August, they said.

The hospital was airlifted by the Indian Air Force recently which would help in providing specialist care to the local Tajik population in the southern part of the country.

India had earlier also built a hospital in Tajikistan in Farkhor there in the late 90s on the Tajik-Afghan border to treat wounded Northern Alliance fighters battling against the then ruling Taliban regime.

India has also developed the Ayni airbase near the Tajik capital Dushanbe, which provided it a foothold in the Central Asian region.

India had deployed its Army and Border Roads Organisation personnel to upgrade the airbase by extending its runway, constructing an air-traffic control tower and perimeter fencing around the base.

The Ayni airbase was completed by India in 2008 after encountering minor problems there and had deployed over 100 personnel there for facilitating operations there.

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