Kyrgyzstan, US sign Manas fuel deal

Feb 08, 2011 12:00 AM

By Richard Orange and Igor Kovalenko

Kyrgyzstan and the US inked a deal for Kyrgyzstan to supply up to 50% of the fuel for the US-occupied Manas Air Base

The US recently signed a deal to pass part of a $ 630 mm Afghanistan fuel contract to a newly formed state company in Kyrgyzstan, in a compromise designed to safeguard its air base in the small but strategic former Soviet republic. The deal will help to keep Mina Corp, the existing holder of the contract supplying the Manas Air base, despite a campaign against the company by Kyrgyz politicians, including President Roza Otunbayeva, who claim that the families of two previous leaders benefited improperly from its dealings.

The base, near the capital Bishkek, is a crucial supply hub for the war in Afghanistan.
"A mutually agreed portion of the requirements of the United States for fuel and for related services at the Transit Center will be reserved for supply by an entity or entities designated by the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic," said Larry Memmott, the US deputy chief of mission. "We want this process to be completely transparent."
After signing a separate deal with the US Department of Defense, the state-run Manas Refuelling Complex will now be free to supply fuel to the base, starting at 20 percent of its requirements, and moving up eventually to 50 percent.

The rest will continue to be supplied by Mina Corp, which, along with its sister company Red Star Enterprises, has held the contract to supply the base since 2002.
Mina Corp, which is registered in Gibraltar, based in Dubai, and controlled by an American businessman, has come under fire since Kurmanbek Bakiev, the former president, was deposed last April, and was put under investigation by US Congress last April. But the Congress investigators reported that they had found no evidence to back up claims that the Bakiev family benefited financially from the company's operations.

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