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Putin to Extend Lease on Kyrgyz Base, Settle Debt During Visit

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Sept. 19 (Bloomberg) -- President Vladimir Putin will use tomorrow’s trip to Kyrgyzstan to extend the lease on a Russian military base in the country and settle the central Asian nation’s debt, according to Putin’s foreign-policy aide.

A protocol prolonging the stay until 2017 will be signed, with another agreement allowing Russia to keep its base in Kyrgyzstan for at least 15 more years after 2017, Yuri Ushakov told reporters in Moscow yesterday. The accord will set out the rent and terms of use for the facility, according to Ushakov.

Russia also plans to settle Kyrgyzstan’s $488 million debt, said Ushakov, a former ambassador to the U.S. He declined to provide details describing the debt deal. Russia’s government has previously said it was prepared to consider “alternative” ways of debt repayment.

Landlocked Kyrgyzstan is the only country in the world that hosts both Russian and U.S. military bases. In 2009 it decided to evict the U.S. from its Manas air base after receiving a $2 billion aid package from Russia. Kyrgyzstan’s government reversed the decision later that year when the U.S. raised the rent to $60 million $17.4 million a year from to keep the facility, which it uses to supply troops in Afghanistan.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek in March and spoke with local officials about extending use of the air base after the current agreement expires in July 2014. Kyrgyzstan insists the facility should be turned into a civilian or commercial enterprise after 2014.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ilya Arkhipov in Moscow at iarkhipov@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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