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Vote on U.S. base in Kyrgyzstan due

Feb. 5, 2009 at 2:45 PM

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- A senior lawmaker in Kyrgyzstan said Thursday that the country's parliament will likely vote soon on whether a U.S. military base should be closed.

Meanwhile, Kyrgyz Prime Minister Igor Chudinov said the proposal to close the U.S. Manas Air Base was not linked to a $2 billion loan that Kyrgyzstan is set to receive from Russia, RIA Novosti reported.

"There may be a coincidence, but the closure of the base is not connected with the Russian loan," Chudinov said.

The prime minister was referring to how President Kurmanbek Bakiyev officially announced the planned base closure shortly after his country secured the loan in talks with Russia this week.

In addition to receiving the loan, Kyrgyzstan will receive $150 million in financial aid and see its $180 million debt to Russia wiped clean.

A source in the Kyrgyz Supreme Council told ITAR-TASS that the vote on the U.S. base could come as early as next week.

"This issue is more likely to be discussed late next week, as parliamentary sessions take place on Thursday and Friday," the anonymous source said.

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