Kazakhstan not against 2nd Russian base opening in Kyrgyzstan

July 13. RIA Novosti. ASTANA

Kazakhstan not against 2nd Russian base opening in KyrgyzstanKazakhstan is not opposed to the possible opening of a new Russian military base in Kyrgyzstan and welcomes measures to strengthen security in the region, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry said Monday.

A Russian government delegation visited Kyrgyzstan last week, holding closed meetings with the republic’s leadership. A source in the Kyrgyz government said the expansion of Russia’s military presence was discussed, in particular, the opening of a military base in the south of the country.

“The opening of a Russian base on Kyrgyz territory is an issue of purely bilateral relations,” ministry spokesman Yerzhan Ashikbayev told an Astana briefing.

He said that if there were plans to discuss multilateral interaction, Kazakhstan would have been informed of that and taken part in the discussions.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday neither confirmed nor denied reports that Russia was holding talks with Kyrgyzstan on a new military base.

Russia has since 2003 operated an airbase in the city of Kant, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) outside the capital, Bishkek.

A high-ranking source in the government of Uzbekistan told RIA Novosti on Sunday that his country was against establishing new bases in neighboring countries. The U.S. State Department said it was up to Kyrgyzstan to decide.