A poet and scholar before he was a diplomat, Tehran’s long-serving ambassador to Dushanbe, Ali Asghar Sheardoost, is known about town for his devotion to Iranian and Tajik cultural and linguistic ties. But he also serves as an emissary to one of Iran’s few friends.
Iran has long seen Tajikistan as a foothold in the overwhelmingly Turkic-speaking Central Asia region. Impoverished Tajikistan, for its part, is desperately in need of Iranian investment, which includes massive infrastructure projects. The two countries’ trade turnover last year exceeded $500 million – much of it “unrecorded” – said Sheardoost.
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David Trilling is EurasiaNet's Central Asia editor.