USA / Kirgisistan

Kyr­gyz Par­lia­ment Approves Man­as Air Base Agree­ment

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2009 – The Kyr­gyz par­lia­ment today rat­i­fied an agree­ment between the Unit­ed States and Kyr­gyzs­tan to extend U.S. access to Man­as Air Base, a key logis­tics hub that sup­plies troops in Afghanistan, Pen­ta­gon spokesman Bryan Whit­man con­firmed today.

The agree­ment must now go to Kyr­gyz Pres­i­dent Kur­man­bek Bakiev for sig­na­ture.
“It’s not a done deal until the pres­i­dent signs it,” Whit­man said. “Out of respect for their process­es, we’ve been try­ing to give them the time and space to give this the con­sid­er­a­tion that it needs.”
The agree­ment pro­vides for a tran­sit cen­ter at Man­as Inter­na­tion­al Air­port, oper­at­ed by the Unit­ed States, to pro­vide logis­ti­cal sup­port to coali­tion forces in Afghanistan. About 15,000 troops and 500 tons of car­go move through the base every month, and the base’s impor­tance has increased as more troops deploy into Afghanistan.

Offi­cials said on back­ground that the Unit­ed States agreed to pay $60 mil­lion a year to use the base, up from $17.4 mil­lion under the pre­vi­ous arrange­ment.
Today’s vote, if approved by the pres­i­dent, revers­es Kyrgyzstan’s pre­vi­ous deci­sion to end the arrange­ment the Unit­ed States and Kyr­gyzs­tan entered three years ago that gave the U.S. annu­al renew­al rights through July 2011. Kyrgyzstan’s for­eign min­istry noti­fied the U.S. Embassy in the Kyr­gyz cap­i­tal of Bishkek in Feb­ru­ary that it had six months to leave Man­as.

“We think it’s to our mutu­al ben­e­fit,” Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary Geoff Mor­rell told Pen­ta­gon reporters yes­ter­day in antic­i­pa­tion of the parliament’s vote. “They obvi­ous­ly have a great stake in what’s hap­pen­ing in that region, as do we. And we look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to work, with them to sup­ply our troops in Afghanistan so that we can help with the over­all secu­ri­ty.”

By Don­na Miles
Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice

(John Kruzel of Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice con­tributed to this arti­cle.)