Kyrgyz Defense Minister Ismail Isakov (right) with U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (file photo) (RFE/RL)
June 6, 2006 -- Defense Minister Ismail Isakov says Kyrgyzstan is not seeking to expel U.S. troops stationed on its territory.
Isakov told journalists in Bishkek that talks aimed at settling a dispute over the U.S. air base at Manas will resume in the coming days. He said only the terms of the U.S. presence would be raised with U.S. officials.
The comments come almost a week after talks on the issue in Bishkek ended inconclusively.
President Kurmanbek Bakiev had asked the United States to pay 100 times more than it currently pays for renting the land on which the base is located. He had given Washington until June 1 to accept the proposed increase, or vacate the base.
The Pentagon is believed to be paying some $2 million a year for the base, which was opened in 2001 for operations in nearby Afghanistan.
(AP, ITAR-TASS, Interfax)