Kyrgyzstan to demand closure of US base on its territory

February 4th, 2009 - 12:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Feb 4 (RIA Novosti) Kyrgyzstan will demand the closure of a US military base on its territory that is used to support anti-terrorism operations in neighbouring Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has said.”The Kyrgyz government has taken a decision to terminate the rent of the base,” Bakiyev told a news conference after holding talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

He cited Washington’s refusal to discuss a higher rent and reluctance to address the 2006 killing of a Kyrgyz man at the base by a US officer as the reasons behind the demand to seek closure of the base.

“If we fail to ensure our citizens’ security, unresolved problems will cause legitimate public discontent,” Bakiyev said.

Bakiyev, who is on a two-day visit to Moscow, secured deals to write off Kyrgyzstan’s $180 million debt and to receive a $2 billion discounted loan and $150 million in financial aid from Russia.

US President Barack Obama has announced plans to considerably increase troops in Afghanistan.

The US airbase was set up in 2001 as a transit point for NATO supplies to the international coalition in Afghanistan and now houses more than 1,000 military personnel.

Russia backed the US-led campaign in Afghanistan, but its relations with NATO have deteriorated over the bloc’s ongoing eastward expansion.

Russia also has a base in Kyrgyzstan under a post-Soviet security pact.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, President Medvedev said: “Russia will give Kyrgyzstan a $2 billion loan and non-refundable $150-million grant … to stabilise the budget and finance key infrastructure projects, including the construction of a hydroelectric power plant.”

Medvedev said a separate agreement had been signed to build the 1,900 MW Kambaratinsk hydro power plant.

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