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NATO Office To Move From Astana To Bishkek

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz Defense Minister Bakyt Kalyev has said a NATO office for Central Asia will be established in Bishkek, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Kalyev said today at a parliamentary meeting on international and interparliamentary affairs that the NATO representative office, which includes its Partnership for Peace program, will be relocated from Astana to Bishkek because of the opening of the alliance's Transit Center at Manas Airport, which is just outside Bishkek.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev told the Russian television station Vesti on December 28 that the Transit Center is designed to transport nonmilitary goods to NATO troops in Afghanistan and represents Kyrgyzstan's contribution to combating terrorism.

He said the center has no military component.

It was formerly known as Manas Air Base and had housed a U.S. military base since 2003.