French President Emmanuel Macron hosted the Tajik leader’s rare talks on Wednesday, vowing to help the Central Asian state since the Taliban took over neighboring Afghanistan.
Inviting Elysee Palace – an extraordinary honor for the strong President Imam Ali Rehman, who has been in power since 1992 – symbolizes the important role that France can play in the regional crisis in Afghanistan.
“We will talk to the president about the assistance that France can give to Tajikistan (in Afghanistan) to stabilize the situation,” Macron told Rakhman.
Tajikistan has a long border with Afghanistan, which is controlled by the Taliban when Islamists wrested control of Kabul from the pro-Western government in mid-August.
Dushanbe has expressed its displeasure with the Taliban, which is under international scrutiny, especially over its treatment of women.
For years, Rakhman has based his regional reputation on working against radical Islam, dismantling Islamist movements at home in a way that has caused concern among activists.
“We welcome your role, commitment and demand that change in the region be a factor in maximizing stability,” Macron told Rakhmon.
“There should be no compromise with terrorist groups, nor with the values we defend, especially with the dignity of women,” she said.
Rakhman praised Tajikistan for seeing France as a “reliable partner” in Europe.
While other neighboring countries, including Uzbekistan, have long established ties with the Taliban, Tajik officials have denied any ties to the group.
Rakhman has complained about the construction of “terrorist groups” on Tajikistan’s southern border and has posthumously honored Afghan anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud.