Tue, Apr 28, 2009
Could Reverse Previous Decision To Close Kyrgyzstan Base
The US could be nearing a deal with the Kyrgyzstan government to
extend U.S. access to Manas Air Base, according to Pentagon Press
Secretary Geoff Morrell. Morrell reported progress in negotiations
he called "reason for hope" about reversing Kyrgyzstan's previous
decision regarding the base.
Kyrgyzstan's foreign ministry notified the U.S. Embassy in
Bishkek in February that it had six months to leave Manas, a major
logistical and refueling center that supports troops in
Afghanistan, About 15,000 troops and 500 tons of cargo move through
the base every month.
The decision was to end the arrangement the United States and
Kyrgyzstan entered three years ago that gave the U.S. annually
renewal rights through July 2011. The United States pays $17.4
million a year to use the base. But officials made it clear from
the start that they hoped to get Kyrgyzstan to reconsider its
"We ... have been engaged in conversations with them about
extending our use of that facility," Morrell said today. "And I
think we see reason for hope there, that that can be worked out...
We hope we're getting closer."
In the meantime, he said the military has been looking for
alternative air bases in the event that that doesn't happen
"We have found a number of suitable ones" to support its
northern distribution network, he said. "Should it become necessary
to find other bases to fly out of and trans-load our personnel into
Afghanistan, I think we've got suitable alternatives within the
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