http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...n-to-bolster-military/articleshow/6896550.cms NEW DELHI: With India already having a military presence in the Ayni airbase in Tajikistan, Army chief General V K Singh left for a four-day visit to the energy-rich Central Asian country on Tuesday to further bolster defence ties. "Gen Singh's visit assumes special significance in the light of enhanced defence cooperation between India and Tajikistan. The visit underpins India's priorities in maintaining peaceful and cordial ties with her immediate and extended neighbourhood,'' said an official. With India virtually setting up a "military outpost'' at Ayni to keep track of its economic and strategic interests in the region, it has worked over the last few years to upgrade the airbase. This has included work to extend and relay the runway at the Ayni airbase, apart from constructing three aircraft hangars, an air-control tower and perimeter fencing around the base, at a cost of over Rs 100 crore. Over 150 Indian military personnel have been stationed at Ayni, which includes an IAF detachment of pilots and support staff for Mi-17 helicopters. "Gen Singh's visit will further cement our defence relationship with a key friendly country in our extended neighbourhood and provide an impetus to our defence cooperation roadmap in Central Asia,'' said the official. India, incidentally, was one of the first countries to recognise Tajikistan as an independent nation, which have been followed by a series of high-level visits between the two countries to build up trust and mutual confidence.