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US diplomat says air base keeps safety

A NEW agreement allowing the United States to maintain its air base in Kyrgyzstan for Afghan operations will help to ensure stability across Central Asia, a top American diplomat said yesterday.

Several months after ordering US forces to leave the Manas base by mid-August, Kyrgyzstan last month agreed to a deal that will let the US continue to use the key support facility for the war in Afghanistan.

The new transit center agreement will help "ensure that violent extremism and instability doesn't spill over into other parts of the region," William Burns, the US undersecretary of state for political affairs, said in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek.

Under the one-year lease approved by President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the air base will be designated as a transit center and the rent increased to US$60 million a year, from US$17 million.


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