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Kyrgyz parliament approves US base closure

KYRGYZSTAN'S parliament has voted to close a US air base that is key to military operations in Afghanistan.

Deputies voted 78-1 today to cancel the lease agreement on the Manas air base.

Closure of the base could hamper President Barack Obama's efforts to increase the number of US forces in Afghanistan.

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev this month called for the base's closure after Russia announced a US$2.1 billion loan-and-aid package for Kyrgyzstan.

If Bakiyev signs the bill and the government issues an eviction notice, the Unites States will have 180 days to vacate the base.

Manas acts as a transit point for 15,000 troops and 500 tons of cargo each month to and from Afghanistan. It also is a base for military refueling planes.


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