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Bishkek May Cede Control Of Manas Airport To Russia

Russin President Vladimir Putin (left) meets Kyrgyz Prime Minister Jantoro Satybaldiyev in May last year.
BISHKEK -- The Kyrgyz government says it may cede control of the country's Manas airport near the capital, Bishkek, to Russia.

On February 19, a Russian delegation signed a preliminary agreement with Kyrgyz authorities that includes the ownership of the airport, which has also been used as a transit center for NATO troops and supplies, and is currently hosting U.S. military personnel.

Kyrgyz Deputy Energy Minister Raimbek Mamyrov told reporters in Bishkek on February 20 that, according to the document signed by the two sides, Russia's state-controlled Rosneft oil giant expressed its willingness invest some $1 billion into the modernization of Manas airport in exchange for obtaining 51 percent ownership of the facility.

Customs Service chief Andrei Belyaminov led the Russian delegation.

Last year, Kyrgyzstan's parliament ruled that the NATO transit center must close down by July 11, 2014.

NOTE: This article has been amended to reflect the preliminary nature of the agreement signed.