In return for closer ties with Kazakhstan, visiting Tajik President Imomali Rahmon has hinted at support for a Kazakh plan to form a Central Asian Union -- an idea also backed by Kyrgyzstan but soundly rejected by Astana's main regional rival, Uzbekistan, and unlikely to please Russia.
Rahmon offered his upbeat appraisal during a visit to the Kazakh capital this week to "improve bilateral ties," including to seek economic help from his oil-rich neighbor.
The agreements that Rahmon signed with President Nursultan Nazarbaev, and the plans about which the two leaders spoke, could signal a new regional alignment at the expense of Russian and Uzbek influence in Central Asia.
President Nazarbaev has long sought greater influence for his country, but appears to have stepped up the effort recently.
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RFE/RL Kazakh Service director Merhat Sharipzhan and Erzhan Karabek of the Kazakh Service and Iskander Aliev of the Tajik Service contributed to this report