Thursday, February 16, 2006

Kyrgyzstan Seeks Rent Rise For U.S. Base

By Agence France-Presse
DefenseNews.com
February 15, 2006

MOSCOW -- Kyrgyzstan wants the U.S. to pay over 100 times more than it does at present for use of an air base in the ex-Soviet republic, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said in an interview published Feb. 15.

”According to our new calculations, they should pay $207 million (174 million euros),” Bakiyev said, apparently referring to an annual sum, in the interview published by Russia’s Kommersant daily.

The current rent paid by Washington for use of the Manas base near the Kyrgyz capital “represents a little over $2 million,” Bakiyev said.

The new figure has not been arrived at “by accident,” he said. “There are international norms for the cost of a hectare of land and a square meter in an international airport of this level.”

Manas, known by U.S. forces as Ganci, is a staging post for operations in nearby Afghanistan.

Its role has expanded since another base used by the United States in neighboring Uzbekistan was closed last November on the orders of the Uzbek government.

Kyrgyzstan’s foreign ministry said last month that new conditions for use of the base had been set out in a letter to the U.S. ambassador, including “a significant increase in the lease fees, payment for ecological damage, as well as a few other points reflecting Kyrgyzstan’s national interests”.

In addition to its rent payments, the United States makes major payments for aircraft fuel — money that has been the subject of controversy in the past due to accusations of corruption.

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