The Guardian 22 February, 2006

Kyrgyzstan ups the rent on US base

The President of Kyrgyzstan has announced that his country will charge the United States Military 100 times more rent for its base. President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said that "until today, the rent has been just over $2 million. According to our new calculations they will be paying $207 million."

"We are not such a rich country as to offer facilities for free."

Bakiyev said the new figure was in line with international practice and said the Americans could stay until neighbouring Afghanistan was entirely stable.

Russia, keen to maintain its presence in Central Asia, also set up an airbase in Kyrgyzstan after US troops arrived.

Kyrgyzstan does not officially charge Moscow anything for using its base, and Bakiyev ruled out changing that policy. "Rent is out of question", he said in an interview, saying that the Russian base existed within the framework of an ex-Soviet security pact and was therefore offered for free.

US forces moved into Central Asia at the time of the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, establishing bases in Kyrgyzstan and neighbouring Uzbekistan.

But Washington’s presence in the region has raised suspicions — particularly after its interference brought about the "revolutions" in Georgia and Ukraine.

Uzbekistan evicted US troops last year after Washington criticised Tashkent over the suppression of a rebellion in the eastern town of Andijan.

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