Kyrgyz leaders question U.S. deal
Officials want another look at compensation
By STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 14, 2007
Kyrgyz government officials are calling for more “transparency” in the U.S. lease of an air base used in support of the war in Afghanistan.
The speaker of parliament in Kyrgyzstan said this week that he brought up the issue and several related problems during a visit to government officials in the U.S. early this month. The speaker, Marat Sultanov, said the Kyrgyz government receives $150 million a year in “financial aid.”
“We asked for more detailed information about the sum, because we seem to receive the money, but we do not see it,” Sultanov told reporters in Bishkek.
U.S. military officials have repeatedly declined to comment on the amount or terms of the lease of the air base, which was opened in 2001. Now, some 1,000 American servicemembers work there at the hub for air operations into Afghanistan.
“Americans are sure, however, that the situation in Afghanistan continues to be very serious, and the need for having an air base in Bishkek is obvious,” Sultanov was quoted as saying.
“This is why we asked the U.S. officials to give us detailed information about the processes taking place in Afghanistan,” he said.
While Kyrgyz politicians do not oppose the air base, Sultanov said, efforts were made earlier this year to strip American servicemembers of the Status of Forces Agreement granting them certain legal protections in the country.
Those sentiments were inflamed in December when an American airman shot and killed a Kyrgyz driver at a security checkpoint.