Kyrgyz parliament defense committee approves forming U.S. transit centre in Manas
The Kyrgyz parliament committee on defense, security and law and order unanimously approved the agreement signed yesterday between the governments of Kyrgyzstan and the United States to establish a transit center for the United States to support anti-terrorist forces in Afghanistan, RIA Novosti reported.
The center will serve to "support international forces in Afghanistan, including assisting the Afghan government", Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Kadirbek Sarbayev said at the meeting of the committee.
Manas airbase was opened in Kyrgyzstan in December 2001 on the mandate of the UN to carry out combat operations and humanitarian assistance as part of the U.S. anti-terrorist Freedom Enduring operation in Afghanistan. At present there are roughly 500,000 U.S. and other coalition countries' servicemen, as well as military transport aircraft and aircraft-refueller at the Manas airbase.
The Kyrgyz parliament earlier voted to terminate an agreement on the Manas base with the U.S. and 11 other countries involved in anti-terrorism operations in nearby Afghanistan. Personnel at the base are set to withdraw before August 18.
Meanwhile, Washington has recently actively tried to preserve the airbase, offering to Bishkek significant increase in rent for the Manas.
Denunciation of the agreement on the airbase was preceded with Russia's issuing $2 billion loan and financial assistance worth $150 million to Kyrgyzstan.