Russia pledges to strengthen military and security ties with Kyrgyzstan

Russia's defense minister pledged "large investment" in Kyrgyzstan to boost security and military ties with this Central Asian nation.

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Russia was determined to expand cooperation with the ex-Soviet republic, where it has an air base.

"We are planning a large amount of investment in Kyrgyzstan," Ivanov underlined in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, according to ITAR-Tass.

Russia has recently stepped up efforts to regain its political and military influence in strategically located and energy-rich Central Asia.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev expressed hope on Wednesday that his country's military cooperation with Russia would continue to develop "dynamically and effectively," ITAR-Tass said.

Bakiyev has been trying to balance U.S. and Russian interests, and despite the Russia and China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization's push for an end of U.S. military presence in the region, has said Kyrgyzstan would allow the U.S. military base on its territory for as long as necessary to bring stability to Afghanistan, the AP reports.

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