Kyrgyzstan's parliament will delay a vote on expelling U.S. troops from an important base there until it receives $450 million in aid and loans promised by Russia, a lawmaker said Monday.
The base is a key staging platform for U.S. and coalition operations in Afghanistan.
"We have decided to wait until the Russians send the money," Communist Party deputy Absamat Masaliyev, a member of the parliament's coordinating body, told The Associated Press.
A delay in the vote to shut the Manas air base could give Washington extra time to negotiate a settlement and avoid closure of the facility.
Moscow has promised to deliver $450 million in aid and low-interest credit by April 30, but Masaliyev said he hoped Russian President Dimitry Medvedev would speed up the process.
Last week, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev shocked Washington when he announced closure of the base a few minutes after Russia promised to give Kyrgyzstan more than $2.1 billion in loans, aid and investment.
Kyrgyz and Russian authorities deny the actions are related, but many analysts say the aid and the closure are part of a deal.
The assistance package also includes a long-term $1.7 billion investment program in a hydroelectric power project in Kyrgyzstan.
Bakiyev complained in his announcement of the closure that the United States is paying too little to lease the base. But some observers say he may be simply be trying to squeeze more money from the Americans for his impoverished Central Asian country.
Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, said last month that the U.S. pumps $150 million annually into Kyrgyzstan's economy, including $63 million in rent for the Manas air base.
The loss of the base would be a serious blow to President Barack Obama's plan to increase the U.S. forces in the region amid growing violence in Afghanistan.
The United States began using the Manas base shortly after it launched operations against Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The base, which is at the main airport outside the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, handles about 15,000 U.S. personnel coming and going from Afghanistan each month, along with 500 tons of goods.
It gained further importance after Uzbekistan, which borders Kyrgyzstan, evicted U.S. forces from a base near the Afghan border in 2005.