BISHKEK, February 5 (RIA Novosti) - Kyrgyzstan's parliament could vote on the closure of a U.S. military base next week, a senior Kyrgyz lawmaker said on Thursday.
President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced plans to close down the base in Manas, used to support NATO operations in nearby Afghanistan since 2001, after talks on Tuesday in Moscow, where he secured substantial financial aid from Russia.
Kyrgyz Prime Minister Igor Chudinov said on Thursday the decision to close the airbase was not connected with the deals under which Russia will write off Kyrgyzstan's $180 million debt and give the country a $2 billion discounted loan and $150 million in financial aid.
"There may be a coincidence, but the closure of the base is not connected with the Russian loan," he said, adding that the talks on the loan were initiated three years ago and both countries worked hard on the details of the issue.
The government submitted on Wednesday a bill for the parliamentary approval needed to proceed with the closure. The legislature is dominated by the pro-presidential Ak Zhol party.
"The chamber will consider canceling an agreement with the U.S. on the deployment of the airbase in the international airport Manas most likely no earlier than next week," said Kabai Karabekov, deputy head of the international relations committee.
He said the bill had to be examined by related committees, which meet on Tuesday and Wednesday, before it could be put to a vote.
The United States will have 180 days to withdraw its 1,000 military personnel from the Manas base once the two countries exchange the relevant documentation.
The U.S. Embassy in Bishkek said earlier Kyrgyzstan had so far provided no official documentation on the planned closure, and the base was operating as usual.
President Barack Obama earlier announced plans to send up to 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan to fight Taliban and al-Qaeda militants.
Russia, which also runs a military base in ex-Soviet Kyrgyzstan, has also denied that the closure is linked to the loan, and has pledged to continue cooperation with Washington on Afghanistan after the base is closed.