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Kyrgyzstan Wants U.S. To Pay More For Air Base

The Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan Bishkek, 21 September 2005 -- Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev today said the U.S. military could continue using an air base on Kyrgyz soil until Afghanistan is "totally stable."

However he added that Bishkek wants Washington to pay more rent for the use of the Ganci Air Base at Manas Airport.

"The Kyrgyz side is currently reassessing with the American side the terms of the agreement [on the Ganci Air
Base]," he said. "I said that the price that had been agreed upon when the agreement was signed is not realistic. It is very low. The economy of Kyrgyzstan is very weak and needs support. This is why we must review the conditions [of the agreement] and raise the price while the issue is still on the table."

The U.S. military has been using the base since late 2001 for operations in Afghanistan. Bakiev made his comments during a visit of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, who said his country intended to keep its military base in Kyrgyzstan for the long term.

Ivanov said that Moscow is planning to invest "several billion of rubles" to develop its base in Kant, which was
opened in late 2003.

Ivanov also said Russia and Kyrgyzstan will conduct joint antiterrorist military maneuvers next year.

(RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, ITAR-TASS, Reuters, AP)