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U.S. denies reports on Kyrgyz base expansion

RIA Novosti

19/06/2008 16:25 BISHKEK, June 19 (RIA Novosti) - The United States does not plan to expand its airbase near Kyrgyzstan's capital, a senior U.S. diplomat visiting the Central Asian state said on Thursday.

Kyrgyz media reported on Wednesday, citing a Kyrgyz government source, that the expansion of the U.S. base in Manas would top the agenda of the June 19-22 visit to the former Soviet republic by George Krol, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Central Asia and Public Diplomacy.

Media reports said Washington had asked Kyrgyz authorities to allot additional 300 hectares to build new military facilities near the base.

The U.S. Embassy in Kyrgyzstan quoted Krol as saying those reports were totally untrue and that Washington did not plan to expand the Manas base.

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.

The embassy said in a statement that in Bishkek Krol would meet with high-level Kyrgyz officials to discuss bilateral issues, including cooperation in regional security and economic partnership.

Russia, which also has a military base in Kyrgyzstan, said earlier this month it would send more aircraft to Kant, about 20 miles west of Bishkek.

The Kant base, which currently deploys some 400 troops and several Su-25 Frogfoot attack aircraft and Su-27 Flanker fighters, combat transport helicopters and combat trainers, will soon receive four more combat trainers, a transport plane and several new Su-27 aircraft, Air Force officials said earlier.

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