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U.S. official to discuss Kyrgyz military airbase expansion - news agency

RIA Novosti

18/06/2008 16:44 BISHKEK, June 18 (RIA Novosti) - The expansion of a U.S. military airbase in Kyrgyzstan is expected to top the agenda of a visit by the U.S. assistant secretary for South and Central Asian affairs to the former Soviet republic, Kyrgyz media said on Wednesday.

George Krol will arrive in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, on June 19 to discuss issues of regional security and the Manas base, currently rented by the U.S. He is also set to discuss economic cooperation and meet with representatives of non-governmental organizations.

"Washington intends to expand its military presence at the Manas airbase and has asked Kyrgyz authorities to allot additional 300 hectares to erect new military facilities," the Kyrgyz 24.kg news agency said.

The U.S. airbase at Manas airport, located 30 kilometers (17 miles) east of Bishkek, accommodates 1,000 U.S. troops along with nine refueling and cargo planes supporting antiterrorism operations in Afghanistan.

According to the agency, a deputy commander of the U.S. Central Command is expected to accompany Krol on his three-day visit.

The Kyrgyz presidential press service said it had no information on whether the Manas base would be discussed.

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