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Minister Says Kyrgyzstan Wants More Cash For Russian Base

Kant airbase, outside Bishkek (file photo)
Kyrgyz Defense Minister Abibilla Kudayberdiev says his country wants a substantial increase in rent from Moscow if it is to continue hosting a Russian military base on its territory.

Russia has four military installations in Kyrgyzstan, including the airbase at Kant outside Bishkek, which operates under the auspices of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization.

Kudayberdiev, speaking at a press conference in Bishkek, said Kyrgyzstan was planning to increase the rent -- currently at some $4.5 million -- "two to three times."

Kudayberdiev, who made the comments after returning from discussions with his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov in Moscow, also said that Russia could pay off its debt for the lease by giving Kyrgyzstan weapons. He said Russia owes some $6 million.

Kudayberdiev stressed that discussions were ongoing and that no agreement had been reached on either the base or the debt.

compiled from Russian and local agency reports