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Official: Kyrgyzstan Not Reconsidering Closure of US Base


Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Kadyrbek Sarbayev says his country is not reconsidering its decision to close a key U.S. base in northern Kyrgyzstan.

Sarbayev says the government is not looking into the question of a possible return of U.S. troops to the Manas air base. He made the comments to reporters Thursday following talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow.

Last month, the Kyrgyz parliament voted overwhelmingly to evict U.S. allies from the base, a key staging point for NATO and U.S.-led forces fighting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev had complained that Washington was not paying enough rent for the base. He announced plans to close it after Russia pledged to give Kyrgyzstan about $2 billion in loans and aid.

The Kyrgyz government gave the United States 180 days to move out.

Manas Air Base is currently the only U.S. military supply route in Central Asia. Routes through Pakistan have become dangerous with regular attacks by insurgents.

U.S. officials say the Central Asian nations of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have agreed to allow the transit of non-lethal U.S. cargo through their territory to Afghanistan.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP

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