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A Kyrgyz official denied Wednesday that his country is in talks with the United States about its continued use of Manas Air Base.

The denial came one day after Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said negotiations between the countries still could lead to a deal allowing the U.S. military to use the site.

"I think we see reason for hope there, that that can be worked out," Morrell was quoted as saying by The Associated Press.

Without giving details on the talks, Morrell said, "We hope we’re getting closer."

He indicated the U.S. would press on with efforts to find alternative routes.

But The Associated Press quoted Kyrgyzstan Prime Minister Igor Chudinov as saying, "there was not, and is not, any order and authorization for any government official to conduct such negotiations."

Kyrgyzstan had notified U.S. officials in February that the base, considered key to supporting the war in Afghanistan, would have to be vacated by August.

Although the decision came shortly after Russia pledged more than $2 billion in aid and loans to the country, Russia has denied trying to push the former Soviet republic into making that move. It has also announced plans to increase the number of aircraft at its own air base in Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan’s issue appears to be money. Kyrgyz officials, including President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, have complained that U.S. officials ignored demands for an increase in the $17 million annual rent for the base.

Bakiyev said in a BBC interview aired in March that "the doors are not closed" on the possibility of the U.S. military negotiating to keep Manas open.

The uncertainty over Manas comes at a time when President Barack Obama is ramping up the number of troops in Afghanistan, which has stood at about 38,000.

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