The FINANCIAL — BISHKEK, Kyrgyz parliament's committees began on February 9 debates on the closure of a U.S. military airbase, a deputy head of the parliament's committee on international affairs said.
President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced plans to close down the base at Manas, used to support NATO operations in nearby Afghanistan since 2001, after talks on February 3in Moscow, where he secured substantial financial aid from Russia.
The debates on the closure of the U.S. base will be first held in parliament's relevant committees starting February 9 with the Defense Committee, and will be then assessed by the three factions before going on a final debate in the parliament.
The United States will have 180 days to withdraw its 1,000 military personnel from the Manas base once the two countries exchange the relevant documentation.
The U.S. Embassy in Bishkek said earlier that the base was operating as usual.
President Barack Obama confirmed soon after his inauguration plans to send up to 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan to fight Taliban and al-Qaeda militants.
Kyrgyz Prime Minister Igor Chudinov said last week that the decision to close the airbase was not connected with the deals under which Russia will write off Kyrgyzstan's $180 million debt and give the country a $2 billion discounted loan and $150 million in financial aid.
Russia, which also runs a military base in ex-Soviet Kyrgyzstan, has also denied that the closure is linked to the loan, and has pledged to continue cooperation with Washington on Afghanistan after the base is closed.