BISHKEK, December 29 (Itar-Tass) — Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev has categorically opposed the deployment of the U.S. military base on the country’s territory.
“I cannot allow the U.S. military base that may pose a threat to the country to remain on Kyrgyzstan’s territory,” he told a news conference on Thursday. “We would like to make Manas International Airport purely civilian. And it is dangerous, not slightly, but very dangerous to keep the military base even for 150 million U.S. dollars,” he said.
Atambayev noted that the base can turn into the target of external attack and then the civilian population will be affected.
“A huge threat emanating from Iran whose missiles can easily reach Kyrgyzstan remains. Just imagine what can occur if Iran, launching missiles against the U.S. military base, will hit the civilian population? This should be prevented, therefore I believe that this base cannot serve military purposes any more,” he said.
“It’s quite a different question if the U.S. agrees to transform the base into civil one. We are glad that the U.S. colleagues realize that such position is not my political game under Russia’s influence. I simply take care about our population,” Atambayev said.
“I’ve told the U.S. – either you pool out your troops in 2014 or together with Russia and other countries create a civil transport centre. We do not need military bases at all,” the Kyrgyz president said.
The U.S. military base has been deployed at Manas International Airport, 23 kilometes southwest of Bishkek, since 2001. It serves as a transit point for passengers and cargoes intended for Afghanistan within the framework of Enduring Freedom Operation.