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NATO to Intensify Use of Air Base in Kyrgyzstan


A senior NATO official says U.S.-led coalition forces plan to increase their use of the US air base in Kyrgyzstan, now that neighboring Uzbekistan has ordered American forces off a base there.

NATO's special representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, Robert Simmons, made the announcement on Monday during his visit to the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek.

Both Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan allowed the United States to set up air bases in 2001 to help anti-terror operations in nearby Afghanistan.

But two months ago, the Uzbek government asked Washington to leave the Karshi-Khanabad base. The request came just days after Washington criticized the Uzbek government for a violent military crackdown on an opposition rally in eastern Uzbekistan.

Kyrgyz authorities, however, have said U.S. forces can use the Manas air base near Bishkek for as long as required.

Some information in the story provided by AP and AFP.

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