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U.S., Kyrgyz Officials Meet To Negotiate Over Air Base --> (RFE/RL) May 31, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Negotiations on resolving a dispute on the use of a Kyrgyz military air base by the United States are under way in Bishkek, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Kyrgyz Defense Minister Ismail Isakov told reporters that the clock is ticking for the U.S. delegation that arrived in Bishkek for the talks.

"A group of experts is already working [on that issue]," Isakov said. "You'll see the result of their work when they make their final report to us. The talks are going on at the highest level because we're approaching the deadline [for reaching an agreement]. Today is the last day given by [Kyrgyz] President [Kurmanbek Bakiev]. So we must reach a final decision by day's end."

Bakiev has proposed to raise 100-fold the rent the United States is paying for the use of the Ganci air base at Manas Airport and threatened to expel U.S. forces if no agreement is reached by June 1.

The Pentagon uses the Ganci facilities for military operations in nearby Afghanistan.
RFE/RL Central Asia Report

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