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Kirghiz President Tells Bush Gorbachev Should Control Nukes

October 25, 1991

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The president of uranium-rich Kirghizia said he and President Bush agreed in a White House meeting Friday that spreading control over Soviet nuclear weapons among different republics ″would have very negative consequences″ for the Soviet Union and the world.

President Askar A. Akayev also said the deteriorating Soviet economy has brought the ruble to the brink of collapse.

″Nuclear weapons should be controlled by the central authority, by President (Mikhail) Gorbachev, and on this I hope the republics will reach a consensus,″ Akayev told reporters after his 20-minute talk with Bush.

Kirghizia, a central Asia republic bordering China, possesses no nuclear weapons but supplies a major component, uranium, Akayev said.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s proposal that Russia, the largest republic, take over nuclear control, has drawn some opposition in three other republics with atomic weapons. These include the Ukraine, which has declared independence and refused to join the Kremlin’s new economic union.

The republics need such an economic commonwealth not for trading with each other but for interacting with the world economy, which ″wants to maintain relations with some kind of center,″ said Akayev.

Kirghizia has also declared independence but Akayev, by profession an engineer of precision mechanics, declared support for the economic union after he became president 13 days ago in an uncontested election.

He said he described for Bush deteriorating economic conditions in the Soviet region.

″We are literally on the brink of an economic abyss, faced with the prospect of hyper-inflation″ and collapse of the ruble, Akayev said. Without immediate monetary reform, he said, ″republics will have no choice but to introduce our own currency in the next month.″

Akayev said a major purpose of his White House visit was to assure Bush of Kirghizia’s commitment to democracy.

Through a Russian-English translator he quoted to reporters President Lincoln on government of, by and for the people and President Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms, adding that ″we are trying to realize the Fourth Freedom, Freedom from Want.″

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