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Kyrgyzstan Wants To Raise Rent On U.S. Air Base

15 February 2006 -- Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev is quoted today as saying the United States should have to pay dramatically more to continue using a Kyrgyz air base it has used for five years.

Russia's "Kommersant" newspaper quotes Bakiev as saying the United States should pay more than $200 million for use of the Ganci air base near the capital, Bishkek. He says that's about 100 times more than the current annual rent of $2 million.

The U.S. military has been using the base to support operations in Afghanistan since late 2001.

Bakiev also said Russia is allowed to use another Kyrgyz air base, at Kant, for free because the base was established within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization.

Russia started using the Kant base in 2003. The commander-in-chief of Russia's air force, General Vladimir Mikhaylov, today visited the Kant base and said its combat and numerical strength would be increased in 2006.

(RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz service with additional material from agencies)

Copyright (c) 2006. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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