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US, Kyrgyzstan Reach Deal on Airbase

A Kyrgyz official says the United States and Kyrgyzstan have reached a deal that will allow the U.S. to continue using a Kyrgyz airbase to transport supplies for the U.S. military to Afghanistan.

Under the plan approved Tuesday by a Kyrgyz parliamentary committee, the United States will more than triple the rent that it pays to use the Manas airbase.

Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Kadyrbek Sarbayev has told lawmakers the U.S. will pay the Kyrgyz government $60 million a year for rent. The previous rent was just under $17.5 million. Sarbayev says the U.S. has also agreed to pay at least $36 million for airport improvements, $30 million for new navigational equipment and more than $40 million for economic development and anti-drug trafficking measures.

The deal appears to place new restrictions on U.S. activities at the base, only allowing the shipping of non-military supplies.

In February, the Kyrgyz government said it was giving the United States six months to leave the base, after Russia pledged to give Kyrgyzstan about $2 billion in loans and aid.

But Kyrgyzstan officials signaled in recent weeks they were open to reconsider the eviction.

A U.S. military commander, Colonel Christopher Bruce, said last week the Manas air base was on schedule to close by Kyrgyzstan's August 18 deadline.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.