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Central Asia: U.S. Secretary Of State Speaks To RFE/RL

Rice in Bishkek on 11 October Transcript of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's interview with RFE/RL and the BBC in Bishkek on 11 October.

Answering an RFE/RL question about when the United States might leave the Ganci Air Base at Manas Airport:

Rice: Well, today, the president [Bakiev] and I spoke to the issue of the [Ganci] base, and he made very clear what he has told us -- that this base is needed for the war on terrorism, it is needed until the terrorists are defeated in Afghanistan, and I don't think we want to set a time-table [for leaving]. We just have to do it as quickly as possible to defeat the terrorists. That's the goal here. It is also the case that the United States has made very clear that we are not seeking a permanent set of bases in Central Asia. We are operating here to support the war on terrorism, which is important to us and important to the region because the terrorists threaten both of us. As to the requirements for the base and relations between Kyrgyzstan and the United States, we are always prepared to talk about our arrangements, but we believe it is a fair arrangement, and we will have a team coming soon to explain better how we have been dealing with certain technical issues concerning the base.

Answering a BBC question about new deployments at Ganci Air Base at Manas Airport:

Rice: The United States believes that it can certainly continue operations and win the war on terrorism with the structures that we have in place now. We are supporting operations out of [Ganci Air Base at] Manas to Uzbekistan and we have needed overflight rights in other places and I expect that that will continue to be the nature of our needs.

Answering BBC question difficult relations between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan and the effect on U.S. foreign policy:

Rice: Well, our view is that the countries that fulfill their international responsibilities are the ones that the international system respects and ultimately rewards. Uzbekistan is not fulfilling its international responsibilities at this point and everyone knows that and Uzbekistan is losing support throughout Europe and certainly with the United States and that cannot be good for the people of Uzbekistan. So, I think Kyrgyzstan is the one that is in the strongest position here because Kyrgyzstan is acting as a responsible citizen. There will be economic and political support for Kyrgyzstan from many countries. But I want to be very clear -- we want Kyrgyzstan to have good relations with its neighbors, good relations with Russia, good relations with China, good relations in the region. We have good relations with those countries and we hope that Kyrgyzstan will, too. There is nothing about having good relations with the United States that suggests you have to choose to have bad relations with your neighbors. You should have good relations with your neighbors.

See also:

Kyrygzstan: U.S. Secretary Of State Rice Talks To RFE/RL

Kyrgyzstan: U.S. Secretary of State Calls For Closer Ties