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Bishkek worried about regional security

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- Members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization must do more to secure their borders as coalition forces look to leave Afghanistan, the Kyrgyz government said.

The Russian government is hosting a ministerial summit for members of the SCO in St. Petersburg. Acting Kyrgyz Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov said members should take note of the 2014 planned withdrawal of international forces in Afghanistan and start making the necessary security arrangements.

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"I think our countries have to begin joint preparation for comprehensive assistance to Afghanistan and for enhancing borders of SCO countries," he was quoted by Kyrgyz news agency 24.krg as saying. "This must be done together with simultaneous augmenting of economic potential of countries of the region."

Kyrgyzstan hosts a transit center for the U.S. military at the Manas Air Base that serves as a major stopping point for military supplies en route to Afghanistan.

Kyrgyz President-elect Almazbek Atambayev told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty last week he would rather see Manas used as a civilian airport.

He expressed concern that his country would be caught in the crossfire of any broader U.S. military engagement with any nearby countries like Iran.

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"If some day the opposite side responds to a U.S. attack with a missile attack, not just the military transit center, but Bishkek itself might be razed to the ground," he said.

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