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Top Kyrgyz Official Says Russian Military Base Granted 15-Year Extension

The agreement reportedly extends by 15 years the lease on the Russian military base at Kant, some 40 kilometers from the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek.
The agreement reportedly extends by 15 years the lease on the Russian military base at Kant, some 40 kilometers from the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek.
BISHKEK -- A top Kyrgyz official has said an agreement has been reached to extend a lease on a Russian military base in Kyrgyzstan by 15 years.

Sapar Isakov, the head of the Kyrgyz presidential administration's foreign affairs department, said the tentative agreement came during talks between Russian and Kyrgyz officials in Kyrgyzstan earlier this week.

Isakov said Russia currently had an agreement to use military facilities in Kyrgyzstan until 2017 that include the base at Kant, some 40 kilometers from the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, the torpedo testing center at Issyk-Kul, and seismic station at Maily-Suu and a communication center in Chui Province.

Sapar Isakov
Sapar Isakov
Isakov said that the new agreement would cover the period after 2017 and added the Russian side had been seeking an agreement for a longer period.

The Russians "were insisting on a 49-year contract for [Russian military facilities in Kyrgyzstan], and now we have an agreement in principle for 15 years," Isakov said.

"But the main agreement about joint Russian military bases will not go into force immediately. Our view is it will be about a five-year period."

Isakov also said rent for the additional 15-year stay was still being discussed.

Russia is currently paying some $4.5 million annually to use bases in Kyrgyzstan.

Debt Agreement

The issue of Russian bases in Kyrgyzstan complicated Russian-Kyrgyz relations earlier this year when President Almazbek Atambaev visited Moscow and brought up the subject of an accumulated $15 million in unpaid rent for the Kant base.

Then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the Defense Ministry to clear the debt, though Russian media responded by pointing out Kyrgyzstan's debt to Russia was some $493 million.

Isakov said that issue was addressed in this week's talks as well, and that Russia would write off some $189 million of the debt this autumn.

Isakov added that, as part of that deal, Russia would receive a 48 percent stake in the Soviet-era torpedo-testing facility at Issyk-Kul.

He said the remaining $300 million debt would not carry any interest rate and be gradually written off starting in 2016. Isakov did not elaborate on the details.

The main agreements on this arrangement are due to be signed next month.

The new Kyrgyz deal with Russia comes as the United States prepares to vacate a base it uses at the Manas Airport outside Bishkek.

President Atambaev has insisted that Washington withdraw its troops from Manas -- which the Americans use as a transit center for troops and nonlethal supplies headed to and from Afghanistan -- by 2014, when the current agreement expires.

Russia, meanwhile, has been trying to negotiate a 49-year extension to use bases it has in Tajikistan.

With reporting by Interfax, ITAR-TASS, and KyrTAg

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