Bishkek, Feb 21 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Kyrgyzstan has reiterated that the US must withdraw all its troops from the Manas airbase in the country when the current lease agreement expires in 2014.
The US began operations at the Manas base near Kyrgyz capital Bishkek in 2001 in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks to support military operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan. It remains a key supply facility for the ongoing military campaign there.
“There must be no foreign military contingent at the civil airport in Manas after the summer of 2014,” Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev said at a meeting with US officials led by Assistant Deputy Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Susan Elliott.
When Atambayev assumed his post in November, he said Kyrgyzstan would not prolong the lease contract with the US, saying that he did not want a third country carrying out a retaliatory strike against the civilian airport.
The US base serves now as a major transit point for supplying troops in Afghanistan. It also hosts a fleet of coalition aerial tankers for refueling fighter and surveillance aircraft used in Afghanistan.