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AFP
The presidents of seven ex-Soviet countries, including Armenia, on Wednesday signed an accord on creating a rapid reaction force based in Russia, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said.

Medvedev announced the agreement at the close of talks with the leaders of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

"We signed an accord on the need to form unified forces" permitting "operational reaction to threats," Medvedev said.

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian indicated that Uzbekistan had made some reservations in signing the accord -- reflecting tensions between Tashkent and some other states.

An aide to the Russian president, Sergei Prikhodko, said the reaction force would have a "joint command and be based permanently on Russian territory." Russia's contribution would include two paratroop units currently based in the regions of Ivanovo and Ulyanovsk, located in the centre and south of the country respectively, he said.

The seven countries are members of a security group called the Collective Security Treaty Organization, seen as an ex-Soviet counterweight to NATO.

(Armenian presidential press service photo)
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