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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tajik Leader Raps Russia on Slow Energy Investment

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan — Tajik President Imomali Rakhmon has criticized Russia for being slow to deliver on its promises of energy investment in the impoverished Central Asian state, state media reported on Wednesday ahead of his visit to Moscow.

The former Soviet republic has been courted by the United States in recent months because of its role as a transit nation for supplies heading to U.S. troops in nearby Afghanistan, further fuelling Russia-U.S. rivalry that has existed in the region for decades.

Rakhmon, due to arrive in Moscow on Wednesday, met Russia's Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko on Tuesday to discuss bilateral ties, state news agency Khovar reported.

"The progress in the implementation of bilateral agreements and agreements ... to build three medium-power hydroelectric plants has been assessed as unsatisfactory," it reported.

Rakhmon did not talk to the press after the meeting, which took place behind closed doors.

Resource-poor Tajikistan suffers from an energy deficit and has insufficient funds to expand its power generation facilities.

"The speed ... at which Russia's Gazprom implements its plans to explore and develop natural gas has been deemed insufficient. ... Work has started only at one of the four fields that have been given to Gazprom," Khovar reported.

The former Soviet republic has little leverage over Moscow but it hosts Russia's largest foreign military base, whose continued stay in Tajikistan was agreed in 2004 following $2 billion worth of investment pledges by Russia.