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27 Mar, 2009 10:33

US air base in Kyrgyzstan to be reactivated?

Kyrgyzstan has offered to resume talks with the US on the possible continuation of the operation of the air base in Manas, a source in the American administration told the media.

“We continue the negotiations with Kyrgyzstan over keeping the military base in Manas. I believe we could reach an agreement on it,” the source said.

The senior US official, whose name was not revealed, added that even if the base is closed, NATO has other logistical options for its mission in Afghanistan.

The news comes from the American delegation to the international conference on Afghanistan in Moscow.

Kyrgyz delegation members denied the report. So did Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Kardyrbek Sarbayev and President Bakiev’s press service.

This is an unexpected development in the story of the controversial military base, which the Central Asian country refused to host any longer in February.

Earlier on Thursday, Minister Sarbayev reiterated that the country was not planning to let the US military return to the base.

In March, Kurmanbek Bakiyev said in an interview with the BBC that “doors are open” for the US to make suggestions over how to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan. Some media interpreted the Kyrgyz leader’s words as an invitation to review the terms of hosting the Manas base, despite the fact that he had said the previous deal was off.

Manas air base has been used for the NATO military operation in Afghanistan since 2001. Its operation drew the anger of the local population several times, due to its environmental drawbacks and the legal immunity of the American personnel on the base.