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US Accepts "Realities," Will Work with Interim Kyrgyz Authorities

The State Department says the United States is ready to work with the interim leadership in Kyrgyzstan to help restore order after the collapse of the government of President Askar Akayev. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice discussed the situation Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Officials here say it is not a question of recognition, but that the United States accepts the "realities on the ground" in Kyrgyzstan and will work with the country's new leadership, following the departure of Mr. Akayev.

At a news briefing, State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli said U.S. diplomats would be in contact with the country's acting head of state, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, and others in the interim administration.

The former prime minister and opposition leader was named to the post by parliament Friday, a day after crowds protesting election fraud took over the seat of government and forced Mr. Akayev to flee the country.

Spokesman Ereli, pressed by reporters over whether the United States condoned the forced ouster of Mr. Akayev, said U.S. policy is to work with Kyrgyz institutions and the situation that exists now:.

"It happened. It's a fact. The president is not in the country. We have to deal with that reality,” he said. “We have to work with the situation to maintain a sense of order, to channel what's happening in a peaceful direction, to work through institutions, and to produce an outcome, as I said, that is stable, that is accepted as legitimate, and that conforms to international standards."

Spokesman Ereli said he was unaware of any U.S. contact with Mr. Akayev, who is reported to have told the Kyrgyz news agency that he was victim of a coup d'etat.

Russia, which has considerable influence in the former Soviet republic, has condemned the ouster of Mr. Akayev as unconstitutional, but also has expressed a willingness to work with the new leadership.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice discussed the situation in Kyrgyzstan by telephone Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov.

Spokesman Ereli said that in the call, placed by Ms. Rice, the two agreed on the importance of the international community working together to help the Kyrgyz people through the crisis.

He said the secretary and Mr. Lavrov also agreed on the importance of the rule of law, non-violence, and support for Kyrgyzstan by the international community.

A spokeswoman for President Bush in Crawford, Texas stressed the need for the interim authorities in Bishkek to restore order as soon as possible and prevent further violence.

She said the United States strongly supports crisis diplomacy in Kyrgyzstan by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

As part of the OSCE-led effort, she said the United States will work with the country's "new governing structures" to help develop transparent democratic processes in advance of new elections.

The interim administration has promised presidential elections within three months, and a new parliamentary election three months after that.

The political upheaval in the country was spurred by fraud charges stemming from parliamentary elections earlier this month in which opposition parties won just a handful of seats.