BISHKEK, February 20 (RIA Novosti)
The Kyrgyz president reiterated on Monday that the United States must withdraw all its troops from the Manas airbase in Kyrgyzstan when the current lease agreement expires in the summer of 2014.
The U.S. began operations at the Manas base near the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek in 2001 in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks to support military operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan. It remains a key supply facility for the ongoing military campaign there.
“There must be no foreign military contingent at the civil airport in Manas after the summer of 2014,” President Almazbek Atambayev was quoted as saying at a meeting with U.S. delegation led by Assistant Deputy Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Susan Elliott.
As soon as Atambayev assumed his post last November, he stated that Kyrgyzstan would not prolong the lease contract with the U.S. saying that he did not want a third country carrying out a retaliatory strike against the civilian airport.
The U.S. base serves now as a major transit point for supplying troops in Afghanistan. It also hosts a fleet of coalition aerial tankers for refueling fighter and surveillance aircraft used in Afghanistan.
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