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Russian Foreign Ministry 'source' denies knowledge of plans for new Kyrgyz base

Moscow, 9 July: The Russian Foreign Ministry does not have information about Moscow asking Bishkek for permission to open a new military base in Kyrgyzstan.

"It is the first time I hear about this," a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry told Interfax on Thursday (9 July). He was commenting on Western media reports, quoting sources in the Kyrgyz government, that Moscow had asked Bishkek for permission to open a new military base in Kyrgyzstan.

Earlier, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov expressed surprise about the media frenzy over a visit to Kyrgyzstan by a Russian delegation that includes Defence Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov and Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin. The deputy foreign minister described "media reports about the aims of this visit" as "conjecture and speculation".

"As regards various publications, it is clear that normal intestate contact could be used for various types of conjecture and speculation. That is not what we are doing in reality as regards strengthening and enhancing our partnership with Kyrgyzstan, Russia's old friend and ally," Ryabkov said.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta had reported on Thursday that, in the opinion of Kyrgyz experts, at a meeting with the republic's leadership "the guests from Moscow discussed, among other issues, the possibility of a Russian military base opening in the town of Osh".

(The Russian president's press secretary, Natalya Timakova, told journalists on 9 July that Serdyukov and Sechin had been visiting Kygyzstan on the instructions of Dmitriy Medvedev, ITAR-TASS news agency reported without elaborating. (ITAR-TASS news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1334 gmt 9 Jul 09).