April 8, 2010 / 4:51 PM / in 8 years

U.S. says Kyrgyz events not Russian-backed coup

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The seizure of power by opposition in Kyrgyzstan is not a Russian-sponsored coup aimed against the United States, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.

Kyrgyzstan’s opposition said it had seized power in the strategically important Central Asian state after an uprising forced President Kurmanbek Bakiyev to flee the capital.

Michael McFaul, a senior White House adviser on Russia, said it was not clear who was in charge in Kyrgyzstan, but the people who were “allegedly” running the country were not anti-American.

“The people that are allegedly running Kyrgyzstan and I emphasize that word because it’s not clear who is in charge right now -- these are all people that we’ve had contact with for many years,” told reporters.

“This is not some anti-American coup. That we know for sure and this not a sponsored by the Russians coup,” he added.

McFaul was speaking in Prague where President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met to sign a nuclear arms reduction treaty.

He said the two presidents did not discuss the issue of closing the U.S. airbase in Kyrgyzstan.

“The notion that we need to close the Manas air base ... was not discussed,” McFaul said.

A senior official in Kyrgyzstan’s self-proclaimed government said on Thursday that there was a high probability that the lease of the base would be shortened.

The United States has leased the Manas air base, which provides crucial support for military operations in nearby Afghanistan, since shortly after the war there began in 2001.

Reporting by Caren Bohan, writing by Jan Lopatka

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