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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Kyrgyzstan expelled U.S. diplomats after secret services report

BISHKEK, July 13 (RIA Novosti) - Kyrgyzstan's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday two U.S. diplomats had been expelled from the Central Asian country on the basis of a report from the secret services.

Kyrgyz media reported Tuesday that diplomats had been ordered to leave Kyrgyzstan for "gross interference in the affairs of the sovereign Republic of Kyrgyzstan."

The U.S. Embassy in Kyrgyzstan said the U.S. nationals had been accused of maintaining inappropriate contacts with leaders of Kyrgyz nongovernmental organizations, but strongly denied the charges.

"Allegations that these official representatives have engaged in inappropriate activities are simply not true," the embassy said in a statement. "Such allegations are clearly in the interest of those who would wish to harm relations between the Kyrgyz Republic and the United States.

"U.S. diplomats have been accused of having inappropriate contact with the leaders of non-governmental organizations. This can be seen as an attempt to intimidate embassies and silence the voice of civil society. The United States will continue to maintain contact with all sectors of Kyrgyz society, including government officials, opposition, and leaders of non-governmental and community organizations."

The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry said the two diplomats, which Kyrgyz media have suggested include an economic and political adviser, had been declared persona non grata.

The ministry said the ex-Soviet republic's secret services had reported numerous incidents of "repeated interference in the country's domestic affairs that did not correspond with diplomatic status and international law."

The ministry said Kyrgyzstan was interested in the further development of relations with the United States if it respected principles of sovereignty and non-interference.

The U.S. Embassy suggested that the expulsions were unlikely to improve relations, which have been under some strain recently as the Kyrgyz government has been seeking a huge increase in rent for a U.S. air base.

"It is difficult to see how the expulsion of U.S. diplomats without grounds would serve the long-term interest of Kyrgyzstan," the embassy said
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