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Kyrgyz Officials Not Commenting On Reports U.S. Will Leave Air Base

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates meets with U.S. Air Force officials at Manas Air Base in Bishkek in December.
BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz officials have declined to comment on reports that Kyrgyzstan will soon ask American-led forces to leave the Manas Air Base near Bishkek.

Temirbek Sultanbaev, the deputy head of the Foreign Policy Department in the Kyrgyz presidential administration, told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service that the government has no comment.

Several Russian media outlets, including "Vremya novostei," reported on January 12 that Kyrgyzstan will ask the United States to leave the air base.

Kyrgyz Communist Party leader Iskhak Masaliev told RFE/RL that in accordance with the U.S.-Kyrgyz agreement ratified by parliament in 2002, one side must inform the other six months in advance if it wishes to end the air-base agreement.

Orozbek Moldaliev, a Kyrgyz political analyst, and Bakyt Beshimov, a lawmaker, have urged the government to keep the U.S. base.

Kyrgyz officials previously said U.S. troops can stay at Manas Air Base as long as it is needed to support the security situation in Afghanistan.