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Kyrgyz, U.S. Officials Prolong Lease At Military Transit Center

U.S. soldiers before boarding a plane to Afghanistan from the U.S. transit center at Manas.
BISHKEK -- Kyrgyzstan and the United States have agreed to prolong by one year the lease at the U.S. Military Transit Center at Kyrgyzstan's Manas Airport, officials have confirmed to RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service.

Transit Center spokeswoman Aigul Karymshakova told RFE/RL the two sides agreed on the lease's extension earlier this summer.

The Kyrgyz-American agreement on Manas Airport, which is located outside of Bishkek, was signed in summer 2009 and was good until 2014.

According to the new agreement, the lease is prolonged automatically by one year if neither side expresses an intention to stop it.

Washington was concerned about its continued presence at Manas after the ousting of former President Kurmanbek Bakiev in April.

Roza Otunbaeva, who succeeded Bakiev, had stated her support for the continued use of the base by U.S. forces, but there had been no official confirmation about the lease extension until now.

U.S. President Barack Obama stated earlier this year that United States would continue to use Manas Airport for the delivery of nonlethal cargo to U.S. troops deployed in Afghanistan. Washington pays $60 million each year to lease the air base.