CTSO may use Manas base when Americans leave: Russian permanent rep to NATO
Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 4 / Trend , E.Tariverdiyeva /
The Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan may be used by the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) if the U.S. military contingent is withdrawn from the area, Russian Permanent Representative to NATO Dimitry Rogozin said.
"I think we will need the Manas base after the Americans leave," Rogozin told Trend in a telephone conversation from Brussels.
Today, Kyrgyzstan passed a decision to close the U.S. base.
President Kurbanbek Bakiyev made the announcment at a press conference.
The U.S. base opened near the Manas international airport in December 2001. The base was opened by an UN mandate to support coalition forces conducting anti-terrorist operations in Afghanistan.
Over 1,000 U.S. military personnel and military transport aircraft are stationed at the base.
The CSTO held a meeting in Moscow today and decided to launch a rapid reaction force, Rogozin said. The appropriate military capacity is required to do so and CTSO member-nations have this potential, he added.
"While specific arrangements for using Manas have not been made, the base may be useful for CSTO forces in the future," Rogozin said.
The Kyrgyz and Russian presidents spoke about forging political and military cooperation to protect the two countries from external threats. Kyrgyzstan told Russia it will no longer cooperate with the U.S. military.
Rogozin said information surfaced in 2006 that the U.S. hopes to place long-range aircraft radar weapons at Manas. The weapons have no purpose for combating the Taliban, he said.
"The deployment of the weapons was prompted by a desire to spy on regional neighbors that have their own aircrafts, including Russia," Rogozin said.
"This puts the issue before the U.S. now of how it will maintain its forces in Afghanistan," Rogozin said.
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