US: Kyrgyz Base Not 'Closed Issue'
At a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Krakow, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says Kyrgyzstan's decision to shutter an American air base is not a "closed issue." The comments came after Kyrgyzstan ordered U.S. forces to leave within six months from the air base key to U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan.
The move complicates U.S. plans to send more troops to Afghanistan.
The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry says it sent a formal notification of the closure of the Manas base to the U.S. Embassy and U.S. troops have 180 days to leave.
Kyrgyzstan complained the United States was not paying enough rent, though Gates has offered to review the amount.
Gates also said that Obama's team has not yet decided whether to continue the Bush administration's plans to put bases in Poland and the Czech Republic, a plan that has outraged Russia.
Robert Gates, US Defence Secretary said:
"I basically told them that we needed some time for this administration to review the plans for the third sight, to look at it in the context of our relationship with both Poland and the Czech republic, our relationship with the NATO Alliance, the commitments we have made as member of the Alliance in terms of European missile defence and also in the context of our relationship with the Russians"
Washington says the planned sites are meant to defend the US and Europe from possible missile launches from the Mideast, but Russia has said the system could upset the traditional balance of power.
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