President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said Wednesday that his government will ask the U.S. military to pay more for the use of an air base in the impoverished former Soviet nation. Bakiyev said his government is preparing a new agreement with the United States for use of the base, which supports combat operations in nearby Afghanistan. He also said he expected the U.S. base to pay higher prices for other services provided by the Kyrgyz government and companies.
"It's been enough time (since the initial deal), there has been inflation, price hikes," he said. "We have to set a price for the use of land in line with international standards."
The Central Asian nation has allowed the U.S. military to use the base at the civilian airport near Bishkek since December 2001.
Bakiyev's government, which came to power following a March uprising that ousted the previous government, has sought to increase revenues from the base, which contributes substantially to the Central Asian nation's economy. Some officials say its fuel purchases, landing fees and other expenditures account for up to 7 percent of Kyrgyzstan's revenues.
The base has also become increasingly important for U.S. forces since neighboring Uzbekistan ordered the United States to leave a base there.
Bakiyev said Wednesday that a U.S. commission would arrive in Bishkek on Friday to negotiate a new agreement.
"Our figures differ. According to our figures, they have paid less taxes and spent less here. They say they've invested more and paid more taxes," he said.
On Tuesday, Bakiyev met with the visiting chief of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. John Abizaid, reports the AP. I.L.
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