Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FRANCE IN FOCUS

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Read more

FOCUS

Lifting the veil over China's air pollution

Read more

ENCORE!

Tango Takeover in Paris

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Steely resolve of reporters exploited by pared-down employers'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

US judge calls Argentina bond swap offer illegal

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Cécile Duflot ruffles some feathers

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Media accused of pro-protester bias in Ferguson

Read more

DEBATE

The Murderous Lure of Jihad: Tackling ISIS and its Worldwide Recruitment (part 2)

Read more

  • US demands Russia withdraw aid convoy from Ukraine

    Read more

  • Besieged by problems, Hollande faces unhappy return from summer holidays

    Read more

  • Central African Republic announces coalition cabinet

    Read more

  • August 22, 1914: The bloodiest day in French military history

    Read more

  • Gunmen kill scores in Iraqi Sunni mosque attack

    Read more

  • Hamas publicly executes "informers"

    Read more

  • French firebrand leftist to quit party presidency, but not politics

    Read more

  • Fear of Ebola sky-high among Air France workers

    Read more

  • US says Islamic State threat 'beyond anything we've seen'

    Read more

  • Malaysia mourns as remains of MH17 victims arrive home

    Read more

  • Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu set to be Erdogan's new PM

    Read more

  • Hollande is ‘nobody’s president’ says former French minister

    Read more

  • Two US Ebola patients leave hospital ‘virus-free’

    Read more

  • US reaches historic $16.7bn settlement with Bank of America

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

Asia-pacific

US to retain use of key Kyrgystan airbase

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-06-25

A new agreement will allow the United States to retain a key airbase in Kyrgyzstan for shipping military material to Afghanistan. Kyrgystan changed course this week after ordering the US base to close in February.

AFP - A new agreement that allows the United States to retain a key airbase in Kyrgyzstan will still let it ship military cargo as it did before, a senior US offical told AFP on Thursday.
  
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, said that despite reports to the contrary, the US airbase at Manas would continue to be used to send military cargo to Afghanistan.
  
"It still will allow us to transit the kinds of cargo with logistical support and personnel that we need," he told AFP on the sidelines of a NATO regional security summit being held in Kazakhstan's capital Astana.
  
"It's a broad umbrella and it includes what we have been doing under the previous agreement."
  
Kyrgystan -- an impoverished Central Asian state -- changed course this week after ordering the US base to close in February, a decision that would have been a blow to US efforts in Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban.
  
Under the agreement, which was ratified by the Kyrgyz parliament Thursday, Washington will more than triple the rent it pays for the base as part of a financial compensation package worth some 177 million dollars.
  
Kyrgyzstan had long complained that the rent it was receiving for the base was too low.
  
The key functions of the Manas airbase are the ferrying of tens of thousands of troops in and out of Afghanistan each year and the hosting of planes used for the mid-air refuelling of combat aircraft.
  
Under the new agreement, the US official said, those operations would continue, effectively putting to rest months of diplomatic wrangling as Washington sought to firm up its Afghan supply routes.
  
A huge majority of 75 lawmakers in the 90-member Kyrgyz parliament voted to let the United States maintain a "transit centre" at the airbase, which sits just outside the capital Bishkek.
  
None voted against the agreement, which was signed by US and Kyrgyz officials earlier this week.
  
Since the agreement was announced, Kyrgyz officials have publicly insisted that it amounts to a base closure and that from now on Manas will only be used for the transit of "non-military" goods.
  
"This is no longer a military airbase, the coalition soldiers must leave now. The dismantling of the base infrastructure can begin," said Kabai Karabekov, a lawmaker from the country's ruling Ak Zhol party.
  
"This is nothing more than a corridor for transit," he added, speaking after Thursday's ratification vote.
  
But despite Karabekov's comments about evicting soldiers, the agreement allows US personnel to remain and Kyrgyz officials have said they will be permitted to carry weapons.
  
And in fact, the agreement places no restrictions on what US forces may ship through it.
  
The US government and its personnel may bring "any form of personal property, equipment, provisions, materials, technology" into and out of Kyrgyzstan, according to the text ratified by parliament.
  
Moreover, US flights into and out of Manas may not by be searched by Kyrgyz authorities, the agreement says.
  
Kyrgyzstan announced that it would evict the US airbase in February, on the same day that Moscow promised more than two billion dollars in loans and aid to the ex-Soviet republic.
  
Moscow has long complained about the presence of US military bases in Central Asia, which it says lays within what President Dmitry Medvedev has called Russia's privileged sphere of influence.

Date created : 2009-06-25

COMMENT(S)