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Gates Says U.S. Would Pay More For Kyrgyz Base

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said the United States would consider paying more rent to continue using a strategic Kyrgyz air base.

Gates, who is in Poland for NATO talks, said he considers talks still open with Kyrgyzstan over the future of the Manas base that the United States uses to resupply forces in Afghanistan.

Gates spoke after Kyrgyzstan's parliament on February 19 approved a government order closing the Manas base.

President Kurmanbek Bakiev, whose supporters dominate parliament, announced plans to close the Manas base earlier this month, saying the United States was not paying enough for its use.

Reports say if Bakiev signs the bill and the government issues an eviction notice, the United States will have 180 days to leave the base.

Gates said the base is not irreplaceable and there are talks with other nations about ways to get supplies into Afghanistan.

He said while he's considering upping payments to Kyrgyzstan, there are limits.

compiled from agency reports