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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 February 2006, 11:21 GMT
Kyrgyzstan seeks US base hike

Kyrgyzstan is seeking a huge increase in the rent it earns from the US for a military base inside the country.

President Kurmanbek Bakiev said the annual rent should rise from $2m to $207m, according to a Russian paper.

The two countries agreed last year that the US should retain the base but Kyrgyz officials said at the time they wanted to discuss the price.

The base has been used by the US to launch missions in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion to oust the Taleban.

"We are not such a rich country as to offer facilities for free," Mr Bakiev told the Kommersant newspaper.

"The American side has shown understanding in this regard. But to be honest, I don't know what their response will be," he said.

The Manas base, near the capital Bishkek, is an important logistical hub for the US, and an estimated 1,700 troops and millions of gallons of fuel pass through it every month.

It became even more important last year after Uzbekistan told the US to leave its other Central Asian base, at Karshi-Kanabad.

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