Kyrgyz president-elect wants U.S. air base closed


From Robin Paxton, Reuters:  Kyrgyzstan’s president-elect said on Tuesday the United States should leave its military air base in the Central Asian republic when its lease expires in 2014, the same year NATO-led combat troops are due back from Afghanistan.

Almazbek Atambayev, the pro-Russian prime minister who claimed victory in a presidential election on Sunday, said Kyrgyzstan would honor its current agreement but he had no intention of renewing the lease on the base.

"When I was appointed prime minister last year, and again this year, I warned employees and leaders of the U.S. embassy and visiting representatives that, in 2014 and in line with our obligations, the United States should leave the base," he said.

The U.S. military uses the Manas transit center as a supply route for the war in Afghanistan. The base is adjacent to Kyrgyzstan’s main international airport, also called Manas, just outside the capital Bishkek.

Kyrgyzstan, a landlocked former Soviet republic of 5.5 million people, also hosts a Russian military air base. Washington and Moscow share concerns about the possible spillover of Islamist militancy as troops withdraw from nearby Afghanistan.  (photo: Vladimir Pirogov/Reuters)

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