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Obama Meets Kyrgyz President Otunbaeva At White House


U.S. President Barack Obama and Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbaeva (file photo)
U.S. President Barack Obama has held talks at the White House with Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbaeva.

According to a White House statement, Obama expressed U.S. support for Kyrgzstan's transition to democracy.

"President Obama and President Otunbaeva emphasized that building democracy is a daily struggle, and noted that Kyrgyzstan has taken positive steps so far to establish a parliamentary democracy and hold free and fair elections," the statement said.

Otunbaeva is in Washington to receive the Women Of Courage Award at the State Department.

Otunbaeva has led Kyrgyzstan since an April 2010 uprising led to the ouster of former President Kurmanbek Bakiev. A short time later, the country was rocked by interethnic violence that left more than 100 dead.

Obama also thanked Otunbaeva for her support for a U.S. base there.

The Manas military base serves as a transit point for U.S. military personnel traveling in and out of Afghanistan.

Obama said the United States has taken steps to improve the transparency of operations at the base and payments connected to it.

Opposition lawmakers in Kyrgyzstan's parliament want the United States to pay more for the base by slapping a tax on aviation fuel. Washington says the proposal would violate the terms of the lease agreement on the base.

A vote on the proposal in the Kyrgyz parliament has been postponed.

Before her talks with Obama and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, Otunbaeva spoke at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace.

She expressed concern about security along the Kyrgyz-Tajik border, saying Kyrgyzstan only has three border agents per kilometer, compared with seven for Tajikistan, and "nine to 12" for Uzbekistan.

Otunbaeva said Kyrgyzstan was working with Russia on border security but was seeking help as well from Washington.

compiled from agency reports