Kyrgyzstan President Plans Closure of U.S. Base

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (AP) - Kyrgyzstan's president has signed a
law to close a key U.S. air base used as a staging post for
military operations in Afghanistan.

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev signed the bill Friday to cancel the
lease agreement for the Manas air base. The base is a transit point
for 15,000 troops and 500 tons of cargo each month to and from
Afghanistan.

Kyrgyz authorities can now issue an eviction notice, giving the
United States 180 days to leave the base.

Kyrgyz lawmakers overwhelming voted Thursday in favor of a
government-backed bill to shutter the base.

Closure of the Manas base could hamper President Barack Obama's
calls for an increased military focus on Afghanistan.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday the U.S.
considers talks still open over the base's future.


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