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    Kyrgyzstan denies plans to end U.S. base lease

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    Only the Kyrgyz parliament has the authority to terminate an agreement with the U.S. on the lease of an airbase in Kyrgyzstan, a senior MP said on Monday.

    BISHKEK, January 12 (RIA Novosti) - Only the Kyrgyz parliament has the authority to terminate an agreement with the U.S. on the lease of an airbase in Kyrgyzstan, a senior MP said on Monday.

    Kabai Karabekov, deputy chair of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, commented on recent media reports that Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev is planning to sign a decree ordering the closure within six months of the Gansi base, which the U.S. has run since the 2001 antiterrorism war in Afghanistan.

    The base, which is located at Manas airport some 30 kilometers (17 miles) east of the country's capital, Bishkek, hosts over 1,000 U.S. military personnel and nine military transport and refueling planes.

    "Any decision to extend or terminate an international agreement on the deployment of an airbase in support of an antiterrorism coalition at Manas international airport near the Kyrgyz capital can be made exclusively by the parliament," Karabekov said said.

    He added that this decision can not be made unilaterally by either of the signatories to the agreement.

    "We have an agreement that is still in effect. If the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry and the U.S. State Department agree to terminate it, the Kyrgyz Cabinet will have to submit relevant documents to parliament for consideration," the deputy said.

    Karabekov reaffirmed Kyrgyzstan's willingness to remain part of the international coalition fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    "Although the situation in Afghanistan has improved since the signing of the agreement [on the U.S. base], it is still far from being stable and causes us concern," he said, adding that the presence of the international military contingent in the region was fully justified.

    In December similar media speculation on the closure of the Gansi base was denied by both Kyrgyz and U.S. authorities.

    U.S. military officials said at the time that the base brought some $80 million income annually to Kyrgyzstan, including $17.4 million in rent and $2.64 million in wages for local employees.

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