Kyrgyz parliamentary committee approves closure of US base

February 9th, 2009 - 7:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), Feb 9 (RIA Novosti) The Kyrgyz parliamentary defence and security committee approved closure of the US military airbase in the country Monday.

The hearings on the closure of the base will now be assessed by three parliamentary factions before going to a final debate in parliament.

A government spokesman said the Cabinet would shortly submit to parliament another “11 related bills” terminating the agreement on the deployment of coalition forces at Manas airport.

The Kyrgyz foreign minister said that closing the base should not affect the republic’s relations with the US.

“We have an established relationship, and the presence of an airbase should not be linked to the development of bilateral relations,” Kadyrbek Sarbayev said.

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced plans to close down the base at Manas, used to support NATO operations in nearby Afghanistan since 2001, after talks last Tuesday in Moscow, where he secured substantial financial aid from Russia.

Kyrgyz Prime Minister Igor Chudinov said last week that the decision to close the airbase was not linked to the deals under which Russia will forgive Kyrgyzstan’s $180 million debt and grant the country a $2 billion soft loan and $150 million in financial aid.

Russia, which also runs a military base in Kyrgyzstan, has also denied that the closure is linked to the loan, and has pledged to continue cooperation with Washington on Afghanistan after the base is closed.

The US will have 180 days to withdraw its 1,000 military personnel from the base once the agreement is formally terminated.

The US embassy in Bishkek said earlier it was business as usual at the base.

US President Barack Obama confirmed soon after his inauguration plans to send up to 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan to fight Taliban and Al Qaeda militants.

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