Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Kyrgyzstan to shut down NATO's air base

Kyrgyzstan has decided to shut down the Manas Air Base used by NATO to supply its troops in Afghanistan. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization has been insisting on its closure since 2005.
Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev explained the decision was made due to economic considerations and the negative public attitude."When there were hostilities in progress in Afghanistan with the use of combat aircraft, Kyrgyzstan made its territory available for fighting international terrorism. But at that time, it was one or two years that were being talked about. Eight years have passed. We have repeatedly raised with the United States the matter of economic compensation for the existence of the base in Kyrgyzstan, but we have not been understood,” he said.Still, Russia and Kyrgyzstan will continue cooperating with the United States on Afghanistan after the closure of the U.S. airbase in the ex-Soviet Central Asian state, the Russian president said on Tuesday."We could join our efforts to promote stability in the region, our countries will help the operations underway in the region. We are ready for coordinated action," said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, adding that the decision to close the Manas base was up to Kyrgyzstan.Manas airport in Bishkek has been home to a thousand-strong American airbase since 2001, the year Kyrgyzstan joined the anti-terror coalition set up after 9/11. The US base used to be the main hub for moving men, equipment and supplies to US and allied forces operating in nearby Afghanistan because of its 90-minute flying time to the war, instead of seven hours from other launching areas.
RT Russia Today