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Protesters demand US air base be withdrawn from Kyrgyzstan

January 30, 2012, 13:13 UTC+3

Protesters stage a picket near the U.S. Embassy to demand the withdrawal of the U.S.air base from Kyrgyzstan

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BISHKEK, January 30 (Itar-Tass) — Protesters have staged a picket near the U.S. Embassy to demand the withdrawal of the U.S. air base from Kyrgyzstan.

About 25 people warned that if their demands would not be satisfied, they would block the motor road to the base. According to protesters, fuel, which was thrown by American military planes, causes irreparable damage to agricultural fields near the air base. Damage amounts to several hundreds of thousands U.S. dollars every year.

This problem was raised at a session of the parliament’s committee for foreign affairs. Deputy Tursunbai Bakir uulu demanded the term of closing this facility should be specified. Earlier, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev said the agreement on the stay of the U.S. air base would expire in 2014. Kyrgyzstan does not intend to extend this agreement, the president said.

As an alternative he called for creating a centre for transit of civil cargoes in cooperation with Russia and Turkey.

The air base was opened by the international anti-terrorist coalition at Bishkek’s airport of Manas in December 2001. The base operates within the U.S. operation in Afghanistan – Enduring Freedom. On the initial stage servicemen and hardware of several members-countries of the coalition were deployed in Manas. But in recent years the U.S. Air Force units are the core of the group deployed in Kyrgyzstan. In 2009 former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev said he intended to withdraw the base. But after long consultations with Washington the base remained intact and was just renamed into a transit centre.

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