Before his poor health forced him to cut short his Central Asian trip, Russia President Boris Yeltsin signed a “Declaration of Cooperation” that adds a military dimension to the political alliance among Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan against “Islamic extremism.” The Declaration obligates the signatories to provide military assistance in the event of military aggression against any of them, and it provides for consultations on joint measures to deal with threats to security anywhere in the region. The pact is aimed primarily at the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, which is active among ethnic Uzbeks in the border regions, and secondarily at the United Tajik Opposition, which is believed to draw support from bases in Afghanistan that enjoy Taliban protection.

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