Kyrgyzstan says U.S. travel restrictions damage ties

BISHKEK (Reuters) - The move by the United States to impose travel restrictions on Kyrgyz citizens is a blow to bilateral relations, the Central Asian nation’s foreign ministry said on Saturday.

Washington on Friday added six countries, including ex-Soviet Kyrgyzstan, to its list of nations facing travel restrictions, citing security concerns. [nL1N2A020Z]

Targeting the nation of 6 million did not match Kyrgyzstan’s “understanding of partnership support for a parliamentary democracy” and was not in line with the sides’ commitment to step up cooperation, the Kyrgyz ministry said in a statement.

“We believe that this has dealt significant damage to Kyrgyz-American relations,” it said.

Kyrgyzstan, a close political ally of Russia, hosted a U.S. military airbase until 2014 when it refused to extend its lease agreement. Ties between the two nations were also soured by United States’ support of a jailed Kyrgyz dissident.

Reporting by Olga Dzyubenko; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov and Frances Kerry