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New Deal On U.S. Air Base In Kyrgyzstan Signed Into Law

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev
BISHKEK (Reuters) -- Kyrgyzstan has signed an agreement allowing the United States to continue using a key air base serving U.S. aircraft in operations in Afghanistan, according to a presidential spokesman.

The former Soviet republic had announced in February it was closing the base after securing pledges of $2 billion in aid and credit from Russia. But negotiations between Washington and the Central Asian state resulted in a review of the decision.

The United States agreed to pay $180 million to Kyrgyzstan for the use of the Manas air base, which was set up by U.S. forces when they overthrew the Taliban government in Afghanistan in late 2001.

"A law ratifying a U.S.-Kyrgyz intergovernmental cooperation agreement as well as an agreement regarding the logistics center was signed by Bakiev on July 2," said President Kurmanbek Bakiev's spokesman.

Russia agreed on July 6 to allow the United States to fly troops and weapons across its territory to Afghanistan. The new transit route, agreed during a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama, takes pressure off supply lines through Pakistan that have come under increasing attack from militants.