Source Pravda.Ru

Kyrgyz President wants U.S. forces in his country to pay more rent

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was in talks with Washington on raising charges for its use of Manas International Airport.

U.S. troops moved into Central Asia, traditionally a Russian sphere of influence, when they started the hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in 2001, establishing air bases in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan for the war in Afghanistan, Reuters reports.

After a tour of a Russian airbase he said: "The Kyrgyz economy is weak and we need to look at the (payment) conditions." He said he had raised the issue with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during a visit in July.

Kyrgyz officials have said the country's economy receives around $50 million annually from hosting the U.S. base, including money spent by American soldiers.

But Washington's military faces growing pressure in the region. In July, Russia, China and four of the region's ex-Soviet states - including Kyrgyzstan - demanded a deadline for the Pentagon to pull out its troops.

Uzbekistan has given U.S. forces a six-month eviction notice after Washington criticized Tashkent over the bloody suppression of a rebellion in the eastern town of Andizhan.

"When the (U.S.) military leaves depends on the situation in Afghanistan," Bakiyev said. "The sooner the situation there is totally stable, the sooner the question of their (U.S.) military pulling out from here will be raised."

He said the situation was "stabilizing" in Afghanistan and had changed for the better since Washington was first offered the use of Manas. He did not say when he expected to discuss a U.S. pullout. Russia's Kant air base, set up near Manas after U.S. troops arrived and seen as a symbolic gesture by some Western diplomats, is officially tasked with supporting a security pact between the former Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States.

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