US seeks remedy for Kyrgyzstan base's pending closure | Shanghai Daily

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US seeks remedy for Kyrgyzstan base's pending closure

THE Obama administration yesterday voiced regret for the Kyrgyz government's consideration to close a US military base in the country, while seeking more constructive talks with Bishkek on the issue.

"It is regrettable that this is under consideration by the government of Kyrgyzstan. We hope to have further discussions with them," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters yesterday.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said Tuesday that his country will shut down the US military base next to the main civilian airport in the capital of Bishkek.

The Kyrgyzstan's parliament is expected to vote next week on the closure of the Manas air base, which homes to over 1,000 military personnel and is a key logistic center for the US-led coalition troops in Afghanistan.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in Beijing yesterday that China respects Kyrgyzstan's decision.

"We have noticed the news of Kyrgyz government's decision of closing the US airbase in Manas," said Jiang, "Kyrgyzstan is a sovereign state. We respect its decision and are willing to see peace, stability and development in Central Asia."

Clinton, however, dismissed the closure's potential impact on US military operation in Afghanistan. "We will proceed in a very effective manner no matter what the outcome of the Kyrgyzstan government's deliberations might be."

The White House yesterday voiced deep concern on the pending closure of the Manas air base, but said it would work with the Kyrgyz government to "remedy" its decision to close the base.

"Kyrgyzstan has provided an important air base in Manas that has been vital to our efforts and coalition efforts in Afghanistan and we look forward to working with them to remedy that situation," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.

About 15,000 people and 500 tons of cargo move in and out of the Manas air base every month supporting the military operation in Afghanistan, according to a press release issued Wednesday by the US Defense Department.

"It is a hugely important air base for us," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters Tuesday, adding "it provides us with a launching-off point to provide supplies to our forces in Afghanistan."

Reports here quoted senior US defense officials as saying that the United States is considering resuming military cooperation with Uzbekistan as a part of backup planning for the potential closure of the Manas air base, in order to ensure the logistic supply for the operation in Afghanistan.



 

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