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Kyrgyzstan's Decision to Close US Base 'Final'


Kyrgyzstan says its decision to shut down a U.S. military base is "final."

That word from a Kyrgyz government spokesman on Friday contradicts earlier statements from both Kyrgyzstan and the United States that discussions about the base are continuing.

A U.S. State Department spokesman, Gordon Duguid, reiterated that there has been no official notification from Kyrgyzstan on the status of the base. He said Friday that normal operations continue at the base, along with talks with Kyrgyz authorities on the U.S. presence.

The Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan plays a major logistical role in supplying U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced plans to shut the base on Tuesday in Moscow, shortly after securing $2 billion in loans and aid from Russia.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says his country will allow the United States to cross Russian territory to deliver non-military supplies to Afghanistan.

Tajkistan is also offering help. The U.S. ambassador in Dushanbe, Tracey Ann Jacobson, says the Tajik president is ready to allow transport of non-military supplies to Afghanistan through his territory.

Diplomatic and defense sources say the United States is considering a military deal with Uzbekistan to establish an alternate supply route for NATO forces fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Most U.S. and NATO shipments into Afghanistan have been arriving by road through Pakistan, but those convoys have increasingly come under attack from Taliban and al-Qaida militants in recent months.

The Kyrgyzstan base issue flared as the Obama administration continued a policy review on the Afghanistan conflict that is widely expected to include a big increase in U.S. troop strength there.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday that denial of access to Manas would be regrettable but would not affect U.S. Afghan strategy.

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