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Kyrgyz President Appears To Soften Position On Manas

Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev

Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev

Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev says keeping a U.S. air base in his country beyond June 2014 depends on the course of developments in Afghanistan and whether Washington is prepared to pay higher rent.

Atambaev told public broadcasters that the fate of the Manas Transit Center would be decided in the interest of Kyrgyzstan and its strategic partners.

The United States pays $60 million annually to use the base near Bishkek as a transit point for military operations in Afghanistan.

Large numbers of NATO troops are set to be withdrawn from Afghanistan in 2014.

Analysts say Atambaev's remarks appear to signal a slight shift from his earlier position that the base deal would effectively be terminated in 2014 and that U.S. operations would take place using a civilian airport.

Based on reporting by AP and ITAR-TASS