7 Feb 2009

Kyrgyzstan says US air base decision is final

6:17 am on 7 February 2009

Kyrgyzstan says its decision to close a United States base that serves as a vital supply route for US and NATO operations in Afghanistan is final.

It contradicts statements that talks are ongoing about the base's future.

Meanwhile, the United States has asked to move supplies through Russia, and Tajikistan says it will allow the transit of non-military goods into Afghanistan.

NATO is increasingly concerned about the security of its supply routes through Pakistan.

Most of its supplies come through the Khyber Pass in Pakistan, which is under increasing attacks.

The BBC reports Manas is the only US base in Central Asia.

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced the closure of the base this week after securing more than $US2 billion in financial aid and credit from Russia at talks in Moscow.

However, Kyrgyzstan says the moves are not linked. MPs will vote on the closure later this month.

The Russian aid package was unanimously approved by the Kyrgyz parliament on Friday. It includes a $US1.7 billion loan to help build a hydroelectric power plant.