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Moscow Offers Arms To Pay For Military Installations In Kyrgyzstan

The Kant air base
The Kant air base
BISHKEK -- Russian officials have offered to supply Kyrgyzstan with arms as payment for Moscow's use of Kyrgyz territory for various military installations, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

The Kyrgyz Defense Ministry's press service told RFE/RL that the issue was discussed by Kyrgyz Defense Minister Abibilla Kudaiberdiev and his Russian counterpart, Anatoly Serdyukov, in Moscow on September 13.

Kudaiberdiev reportedly suggested that Russia unite its five military installations in Kyrgyzstan into one large military base. Serdyukov, in turn, proposed that Russia would send arms to Kyrgyzstan as payment for its lease on its major military base in Kant, which is near Bishkek.

No agreements were reportedly reached and talks on these issues are expected to continue.

Kyrgyz and Russian media reported before that a possible opening of a Russian military training center in southern Kyrgyzstan would also be discussed during the meeting. In addition to the base at Kant, there are four smaller Russian military installations in Kyrgyzstan.

The United States also has a Military Transit Center at Manas Airport near Bishkek, which is used for transporting nonlethal materiel to NATO troops in Afghanistan. The United States pays some $60 million per year to rent the facilities at Manas.

Kyrgyzstan is the only country in the world that hosts both Russian and U.S. military bases.