14 April 2005 -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is scheduled to travel to Bishkek today to discuss further military cooperation with Kyrgyz officials.
Following the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States, the Kyrgyz government agreed to allow U.S. forces to use Bishkek's Manas airport as a base, mainly for operations in Afghanistan.
But Kyrgyzstan has been thrown into political uncertainty since then President Askar Akaev fled the country on 24 March after protesters -- angered by election rigging -- stormed government buildings in Bishkek. Akaev, who led the country since independence, eventually resigned.
Today, Rumsfeld will meet with the new Kyrgyz leadership, including acting President Kumanbek Bakiev, acting Defense Minister Ismail Isakov, and acting Foreign Minister Roza Otunbaeva.
Rumsfeld's visit comes just two days after Russia's ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, Yevgenii Shmagin, discussed defense cooperation with Isakov. Russian rapid-reaction forces are stationed at the Kant air base, just 30 kilometers from their U.S. counterparts.
(Interfax)See also:Afghanistan Wants 'Long-Term' U.S. SecurityRumsfeld Meets Top Officials, U.S. Troops In Iraq