US military base to stay in Kyrgyzstan till 2014
Azerbaijan, Baku, Nov. 23/ Trend/
The U.S. military base Manas will stay in Kyrgyzstan till the year 2014, as fixed in an agreement between Kyrgyzstan and the United States, Kyrgyzstan's incumbent president Roza Otunbayeva said on Tuesday, Itar-Tass reports.
At the same time, she noted that President Elect Almazbek Atambayev
had suggested that the base should be used as a transit centre. She called
it "a good idea."
"We need a big transport hub to handle goods shipped from the West to
the East and vice versa," she told a news conference. She stressed that the base is vital for the international coalition force in Afghanistan. The base's fate after 2014 will depend largely on the situation in that country, she noted. "Let us see what happens in 2014," she said.
The Manas base was opened in late 2001 after the United States launched a war on Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Now it accommodates about 1,200 American soldiers. According to Pentagon statistics, the base handles up to 15,000 coalition servicemen and 500 tons of cargoes a month.
In 2009, the then President of Kyrgyzstan, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, said he wanted the base to be closed, but after Washington talks on lease terms, he ultimately decided the base should stay. The United States has agreed to pay a rent of 63 million U.S. dollars a year, to overhaul its airport and equip it with the most state-of-the-art navigation system, and to
allocate 51 million U.S. dollars to back Bishkek's anti-drug and anti-terrorism efforts.