Thursday, August 16, 2012 -
Kyrgyzstan has tentatively agreed to extend Russia’s use of military bases in the Central Asian republic for 15 years, a senior Kyrgyz official said Thursday.
Sapar Isakov, chief of the Kyrgyz presidential administration’s foreign policy office, said the deal would take effect when the current lease agreement ended in 2017.
He noted that Russia had been trying to negotiate an extension of 49 years.
“Rents will remain at the same level,” the KyrTAG news agency cited Isakov as telling the press conference in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek.
The two sides also agreed that Moscow will immediately write-off $189 million of a total $489 million in debts owed by Kyrgyzstan. Bishkek will pay off the remaining $300 million in equal installments over a period of 10 years beginning in 2016, Isakov said. The debt will not incur interest.
The agreements will be signed off by mid-October, the official said.
“Our goal in this case is to protect the sovereignty and security of Kyrgyzstan,” he said.
Russia is currently using an airbase in Kant near Bishkek, a torpedo testing facility at Issyk-Kul lake in Eastern Kyrgyzstan, a communications center in the northern Chui province, and a seismic laboratory in Maily-Suu.
Kyrgyzstan has told the United States to remove its own troops from the country by 2014. The Pentagon is currently leasing the Manas Air Transit Center near Bishkek for troops and non-lethal supplies for NATO operations in Afghanistan under a lease that expires in two years.