BISHKEK -- A U.S. delegation led by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William J. Burns has wrapped up a two-day visit to Kyrgyzstan that focused on antiterror cooperation and Central Asian security, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported.
Burns met with Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev on July 11 at the presidential residence on the outskirts of Bishkek.
A release sent out by Kyrgyzstan’s presidential press service on July 12 said that Burns thanked the Kyrgyz government on behalf of President Barack Obama for allowing the United States to continue using its Manas air base to support operations in Afghanistan.
Bishkek last month agreed to a new deal on Manas, reversing earlier warnings that U.S. service members there would be forced to leave.
Burns also said that the Obama administration offers new opportunities to strengthen Kyrgyz-U.S. relations, including the creation of a commission on bilateral trade.
The U.S. delegation supported Bakiev's initiative to establish a new infrastructure for permanent dialogue on Central Asian and Afghan security issues, the press release said.
On July 12, Burns met with representatives of Kyrgyzstan's non-government organizations.
When asked by RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz correspondent about unconfirmed reports on the possible establishment of another Russian-led military air base in southern Kyrgyzstan, Burns replied that it is Bishkek’s right to take any steps necessary to ensure its own security and stability.