22:11 GMT +323 February 2019
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    Kyrgyz president says base closure will not harm ties with U.S.

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    Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said on Wednesday the closure of the U.S. airbase at Manas would not harm relations with the United States and Europe.

    BISHKEK, February 11 (RIA Novosti) - Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said on Wednesday the closure of the U.S. airbase at Manas would not harm relations with the United States and Europe.

    President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced plans to close down the base at Manas, used to support NATO operations in nearby Afghanistan since 2001, after talks last Tuesday in Moscow, where he secured substantial financial aid from Russia.

    "It is not about political controversies between the U.S. and Kyrgyzstan. The question is purely economic," Bakiyev said at a news conference.

    The president said he had repeatedly suggested that the U.S. side should review the airbase agreement and raise the leasing fee for the airbase, but the suggestion was ignored.

    He added that the base closure was also caused by violations of law by U.S. military personnel, including the killing of a Kyrgyz national by a U.S. soldier in December 2006.

    Alexander Ivanov, 42, a driver with the fuel services company Aircraft Petroleum Management and a father of two, was shot dead December 6, 2006, by an airman identified by Kyrgyz investigators as Zachary Hatfield while undergoing a routine security check at the Manas airbase. The U.S. serviceman was later transferred home.

    "Two years have passed since the killing, but the U.S. side did not solve the issue or complete the investigation," Bakiyev said.

    Bakiyev pledged to continue cooperation in fighting international terrorism and restoring peace in Afghanistan.

    The Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan postponed a discussion on the closure of the base earlier on Wednesday, as Foreign Minister Kadyrbek Sarbayev was unable to attend.

    Hearings on the closure of the base must first be held in three parliamentary committees and also discussed by the three main parties in parliament, before going to a final parliamentary debate. So far only the parliamentary commission on defense and security issues has approved the closure of the base.

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