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Kyrgyzstan says no proposals from Pentagon on U.S. airbase

Posted by seumasach on February 6, 2009

 

 

BISHKEK, February 6 (RIA Novosti) – Kyrgyz Prime Minister Igor Chudinov dismissed on Friday media reports that his country had received a set of new proposals from Washington concerning the closure of a U.S. airbase on its territory.

“I have neither met nor talked to representatives of the U.S. Embassy. I have received no new proposals,” Chudinov said.

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced plans to close down the U.S. base at Manas, used to support NATO operations in nearby Afghanistan since 2001, after talks on Tuesday in Moscow, where he secured substantial financial aid from Russia.

Moscow and Bishkek have denied the decision to close the airbase was connected to the aid. Russia is to write off Kyrgyzstan’s $180 million debt and give the country a $2 billion discounted loan and $150 million in financial assistance.

The Kyrgyz government submitted on Wednesday a bill to gain the parliamentary approval needed to proceed with the closure of the base. The parliament, dominated by the pro-presidential Ak Zhol party, is expected to consider the bill next week.

Russian media, however, reported on Friday citing sources in Bishkek that the legislature had postponed the hearing on the base indefinitely, saying Bakiyev was deliberately trying to force the United States to make new proposals.

U.S., EU and NATO officials have made it clear that they need the base and are prepared to discuss the issue, but would pull out if Kyrgyzstan raises the rent steeply.

Tajikistan, which borders Afghanistan, has meanwhile agreed to offer its airspace to transport NATO’s non-military supplies to Afghanistan, the U.S. ambassador to ex-Soviet Central Asian state said on Friday.

Tracey Ann Jacobson said President Emomali Rakhmon “has confirmed his readiness to provide the country’s airspace for non-military NATO supplies to Afghanistan.” She said overflight permission was necessary due to a decision to send more troops to fight Taliban and Al-Qaeda insurgents in Afghanistan.

U.S. General David Petraeus, the senior U.S. commander for the Middle East and Central Asia, was reported to have held talks on the transit of supplies to Afghanistan with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

Russia has allowed Afghanistan-bound non-military NATO supplies through its airspace since last April.

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