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U.S. reveals Manas payments in Kyrgyzstan

The U.S. Embassy in Bishkek has disclosed its payments to the Kyrgyzstan government for the year so far, as well as funds spent directly for use of the Manas air base, which plays a key role in support of the fighting in Afghanistan.

The unusual public disclosures, posted on the embassy Web site, were prompted by allegations that money generated by U.S. military's use of the air base was flowing to the families of the country's deposed last two presidents.

The disclosures come as the controversial fuel contract for the base, which involved $230 million last year, is up for rebid. The current contract calls for 315 million gallons of jet fuel to be delivered this year, according to the embassy website.

At a Washington hearing Tuesday, Robert O. Blake, assistant secretary of State for South and Central Asia, who recently returned from Bishkek, said, "One of the things that we've done is that we've posted on our embassy's website in Bishkek information about our assistance but also about these fuel contracts, so that there can be maximum transparency and so that we can, again, encourage the same from our friends in the government."

So far this year, the U.S. has paid $45 million directly to the Kyrgyzstan government and another $13 million to the Manas International Airport for landing fees, leases and other contracts associated with the base, according to the embassy. Another $18 million has been spent on contracts in Kyrgyzstan. The website also reported that for all of 2009, direct payments to the former government under deposed President Kurmanbek Bakiyev totaled $26,620,000 and airport direct payments were $22 million.

By Walter Pincus  | July 28, 2010; 6:00 PM ET
 
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