(NSI News Source Info) BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - March 26, 2009: Kyrgyzstan is not considering the possibility of U.S. troops returning to the Manas airbase in the north of the country, the Kyrgyz foreign minister said on Thursday. Kyrgyzstan has officially informed Washington of the termination of the agreement on a U.S. military presence at the Manas airbase and has given it 180 days to withdraw some 1,200 personnel, aircraft and other equipment. "We are currently not considering the return of the U.S. [troops] to the base," Kadyrbek Sarbayev said at a news conference in Moscow. Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev signed on February 20 a decree to close the Manas airbase, located close to the former Soviet republic's capital of Bishkek. The base, staffed mainly by U.S. Air Force personnel, had been used since 2001 to support NATO operations in nearby Afghanistan. Bakiyev linked the decision to Washington's refusal to pay more for the base and to the conduct of U.S. military personnel, including the killing of a Kyrgyz national by a U.S. soldier in December 2006.
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