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BISHKEK, January 16. /ITAR-TASS/. Kyrgyz Prime Minister Zhantoro Satybaldiyev has reported that tension was controllable at the scene of recent armed conflict on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border though all Kyrgyz crossing points would remain closed until calm was restored.
Closure was "to ensure citizens’ safety,” and “to avoid any provocations”, he said, adding that sporadic problems in border zones would persist until Kyrgyzstan concluded a process of border demarcation with neighbouring states.
“These issues must be settled only through talks,” the premier said. “We have referred our position to Tajik colleagues,” Satybaldiyev added. “This morning, the Tajik side offered to hold a high-level working meeting on border affairs on January 25 or 26,” he said. This will be held in Bishkek, the capital, or at Batken, a regional centre in southern Kyrgyzstan.
On January 11, Tajik and Kyrgyz border guards exchanged fire near the Batken village of Ak-Sai. Six Kyrgyz nationals and two Tajiks were wounded in the shootout.
Conflict was triggered by Kyrgyzstan's construction of a loop road around the Tajik enclave of Vorukh. According to the prime minister, Kyrgyzstan was undertaking construction work on its own territory. “We have maps showing that this section administratively belongs to our republic,” he said.
“Military prosecutors on both sides are looking into the incident,” the premier said. “I think those responsible for the conflict will be punished,” he added, dismissing Tajik fears that its nationals could be left without access to pastures or drinking or agricultural water after the construction was finished.
“We will strictly comply with international laws and provide neighbors with water resources,” the premier added. He did not rule out that interests of drug lords could be involved in the conflict as that area was a route for Afghan narcotics.
Local problems had existed during Soviet times, he said. “But I once again say that we will be able to solve them only after border demarcation and delimitation is completed, though this will take a lot of time.