Russian and Kyrgyz Presidents agreed to cooperate in electricity, natural gas and mining deals

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said Monday that they had agreed to boost cooperation in investment, electricity generation, natural gas and mining.

After their Kremlin talks, officials from both sides signed agreements on paying off Kyrgyzstan's debt to Russia and protecting intellectual property in joint defense projects.

"I am convinced that through our joint efforts we can achieve continuity and the quality development of our strategic partnership in the interests of our two countries and peoples," Putin wasq quoted as saying by the AP.

Bakiyev said his country's biggest challenge was combating poverty and unemployment, and that it would stress economic cooperation in its foreign ties.

"I think that the support we are getting from all sides will allow us to get concrete results. I have no doubt about that," Bakiyev said.

Bakiyev's Moscow visit was his first working trip abroad since being inaugurated last month. The former Kyrgyz opposition leader rose to power in a popular uprising a few months ago and won a landslide victory in a July election.

Bakiyev has been trying to balance U.S. and Russian interests in his former Soviet republic, which hosts military bases from both powers. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, dominated by Russia and China, has tried to pressure Kyrgyzstan to push for an end to the U.S. deployment; its neighbor Uzbekistan already ordered U.S. troops to leave their base there within the next few months. Both U.S. bases have been used to support military operations in nearby Afghanistan.

Kyrgyzstan has also come under pressure from Uzbekistan, which accused it of giving shelter to terrorists when it admitted hundreds of Uzbek refugees following the May uprising in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijan. Both China and Russia have strongly backed Uzbekistan in the face of Western calls for an international investigation into the brutal government suppression of the uprising.

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