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U.S. Base In Kyrgyzstan To Replace Closing Uzbek Base

Bishkek, 10 August 2005 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Stephen Young said today that some of the duties of the U.S.- led coalition operating in Afghanistan that were previously performed at the coalition base in Uzbekistan will be transferred to the Manas base in Kyrgyzstan.

At the insistence of the Uzbek government, the coalition base in Uzbekistan will close later this year. Young denied that all operations done from the base in Uzbekistan would be transferred to the base in Kyrgyzstan. The U.S. ambassador said recent increases in activity at Manas was due to upcoming parliamentary elections in Afghanistan.

"There is already one of those periodic increases in the amount of activity at the Manas or Ganci air base [in Kyrgyzstan] which is related to upcoming elections in September by Afghanistan of a new parliament. These fluctuations in the amount of activity are often related to internal affairs in Afghanistan and they will continue."

Young said that the U.S. spent $163 million last year on maintaining its presence at the Kyrgyz base, including payments for the use of the base and fuel purchases.

(RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, AFP)

Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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