U.S. welcomes Kyrgyzstan's stance change on airbase
The Obama administration on Tuesday welcomed a decision by the Kyrgyz government to allow the United States to continue using its Manas airbase, Xinhua reported.
Reports here said Washington and Bishkek have reached an agreement that would allow the United States to continue using the airbase to transport military supplies to the U.S. army troops stationed in Afghanistan.
"I can't give you the actual details of what we agreed to. But what I can say is that we welcome this decision by the Kyrgyz Republic to submit to the parliament a new agreement ...," said State Department spokesman Ian Kelly.
"These arrangements provide for a transit center operated by the United States at Manas International Airport. And this transit center will provide logistical support to coalition forces in Afghanistan," Kelly told reporters.
Under the agreement, the United States will pay more than 60 million U.S. dollars a year, about triple the rent it used to pay, for renting the airbase, and 36 million dollars for airport improvement.
Moreover, the United States has also agreed to pay 30 million dollars for new navigational equipment and more than 40 million dollars for economic development and anti-drug trafficking measures.
"We welcome efforts by the Kyrgyz Republic to continue to play a role in the international community, and we welcome this broadening role that they're playing in the region," said Kelly.
In February, the Obama administration received an official confirmation sent from Bishkek on planned closure of the U.S. airbase in Kyrgyzstan's Manas International Airport.
About 15,000 people and 500 tons of cargo monthly move in and out of the airbase, the only U.S. facility in central Asia and a key logistic center for operations in Afghanistan.
U.S. President Barack Obama has approved the first combat deployment of his presidency, calling an additional 21,000 troops in the coming months to Afghanistan. The deployment will begin in May and will increase U.S. forces in Afghanistan by about 68,000 by the end of this year.
According to reports here, the administration has been considering a resumption of military cooperation with Uzbekistan by re-renting the Khanabad Airport to use as a U.S. air base, and has also been keeping contact with Bishkek in attempt to make sure that the airbase could continue to operate normally under the existing agreement.