US, Russian officials hold talks over Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan

Biden said at a security conference in Munich last Saturday that it was time to end a dangerous rift in ties and work with Moscow.

US, Russian officials hold talks over Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan
A senior U.S. diplomat held talks with Russian officials on Thursday, the State Department said, following up on a promise by Vice President Joe Biden last week to hit the "reset button" in ties with Moscow.

U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns, an ambassador in Russia until last year, arrived in Moscow on Wednesday to discuss a broad range of issues with officials in Moscow, said State Department spokesman Robert Wood.

"There are a lot of issues we need to work out with Moscow," said Wood.

On the agenda was nuclear arms reduction, stabilizing Afghanistan and a dispute with Moscow's ally Kyrgyzstan over its plans to close the Manas military base.

The United States wants to ascertain Russia's involvement in Kyrgyzstan's threat to evict U.S. forces from Manas. The announcement was made in Moscow after Kyrgyzstan secured more than $2 billion in Russian aid and credit.

Wood said he did not have details of Burns' talks in Moscow or who he met with but that he expected the Manas issue to be raised.

Wood said the State Department had still not received any official notification of plans to shutter the base. The United States says negotiations are still continuing and has expressed hope Kyrgyzstan may still change its mind.

On Wednesday Russia said it may offer its military aircraft to boost supplies for freign troops in Afghanistan, given the Kremlin views the country as one where Russian interests coincide with those of the United States.

The Bush administration had prickly ties with Moscow over a host of issues, including U.S. plans to build a missile shield in Europe that Russia strongly opposes.

Biden said at a security conference in Munich last Saturday that it was time to end a dangerous rift in ties and work with Moscow, a speech welcomed by Russia.

The Obama administration has promised a more pragmatic approach to Russia and has said it would like close cooperation with Russia on issues such as trying to rein in Iran's nuclear program.

Reuters
Last Mod: 13 Şubat 2009, 16:44
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