Kyrgyzstan and U.S. military to discuss financial terms of agreement on U.S. base

Kyrgyzstan and the United States will review the financial terms of an agreement on the air base in the former Soviet republic that U.S.-led forces use for operations in Afghanistan, the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Alikbek Jekshenkulov told a visiting U.S. military delegation Friday that Kyrgyzstan wanted to charge more for the use of the country's main airport, near the capital Bishkek, as well as land outside the airport and flight navigation equipment, the ministry said in a statement.

Kyrgyzstan also wants to be compensated for possible future environmental damage caused by U.S. military aircraft, and Jekshenkulov told the Americans that U.S. military contractors need to pay taxes, the ministry said.

The Foreign Ministry and the U.S. military delegation agreed to adopt a joint statement that Kyrgyzstan and the United States "were ready to review technical and financial agreements on the use of the air base," the ministry said.

The ministry did not say when more meetings would be held. The U.S. Embassy in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek declined comment on the talks. Kyrgyzstan has hosted the air base, which supports combat operations in Afghanistan, since December 2001. The new Kyrgyz leadership, which came to power after the longtime president's ouster in March, has sought to increase revenues from the base.

The base has become increasingly important for U.S. forces since neighboring Uzbekistan ordered the United States to vacate a base there. Kyrgyzstan also hosts a Russian air base near the capital Bishkek, reports the AP. I.L.

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