US to keep using Kyrgyz air base

New deal approved by Kyrgyzstan committee triples US rent for use of Manas air base.

    The agreement comes four months after the Kyrgyz president ordered the US to close the base [AFP]

    The US will also pay $37m to build new aircraft parking slots and storage areas, and another $30m for new navigation systems, The Associated Press reported.

    'Deteriorating situation'

    Sarbayev told the committee that Kyrgyzstan was worried about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, saying the situation could destabilise the Central Asian region as a whole.

    The deal now goes to the full parliament, where it could be approved as early as the end of the week.

    The US embassy in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital, called the deal a crucial boost for coalition forces.

    "We applaud the decision by the Kyrgyz Republic to continue to play a key role as the international community broadens and deepens its commitment to bringing stability and security to Afghanistan and the region," Michelle Yerkin, an embassy spokeswoman, said.

    The agreement comes four months after Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the president of Kyrgyzstan, signed a bill to close the base, giving the US six months to shut it down.

    Bakiyev complained at the time that the US was not paying enough in rent for the base.

    US officials had expressed hope that Kyrgyzstan would change its mind, indicating that negotiations on the amount paid for its maintenance could be held.

    Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, had also appealed to Kyrgyz officials to continue to allow coalition troops to use the base.

    The base is used as a transit point for 15,000 troops and 500 tonnes of cargo monthly to and from Afghanistan.

    The US opened the  base just after its offensive in Afghanistan began in 2001, following the September 11 attacks.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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