GORKI (Moscow region), February 24 (RIA Novosti)
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is holding talks with his Kyrgyz counterpart Almazbek Atambayev on Friday, said that stability in Central Asian countries was of utmost importance for Russia amid growing pressure onSyria and Iran near the region.
“The number of processes that are being developed in the Middle East, around Syria and Iran, have a direct influence on the situation in our region [Central Asia],” Medvedev said, adding that Russia must cooperate closely with its partners in the region to ensure stability.
Medvedev also said that he had discussed economic cooperation with his Kyrgyz counterpart.
Atambayev, who is on his first official visit to Russia since he was inaugurated in December, earlier told the Kyrgyz Kabar news agency that he would ask Russia to pay off its debts for leasing Kyrgyz military facilities, including four military bases, torpedo testing facility, military communication center and a radio seismic laboratory.
According to the Kyrgyz Defense Ministry, Russia holds a $15-million debt before Kyrgyzstan for leasing its military facilities.
It is not clear yet whether the presidents have discussed Russia’s debt to Kyrgyzstan.
The United States, which also has a military base, Manas, near the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, pays around $150 million every year without any delays, Kabar reported on Friday.
Prior to Atambayev’s visit to Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Wednesday that Moscow feared that the Manas base may be used in a military conflict against Iran because of its proximity to the Islamic Republic (the distance between Bishkek and Tehran is about 1,300 miles). U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul dismissed the statement.
Kyrgyzstan is the only country that hosts both Russian and the U.S. military bases.