From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
President-elect: US base puts our country at risk
Tuesday 01 November 2011
by Our Foreign Desk
Kyrgyzstan‘s president-elect Almazbek Atambayev declared today that the US must close its military air base in the country by 2014 because its presence on Kyrgyz soil undermines national security.
Social Democrat Atambayev, who won over 60 per cent of Sunday’s vote, said: “We know that the United States is often engaged in conflict. First in Iraq, then in Afghanistan and now relations are tense with Iran.
“I would not want one of these countries to launch a retaliatory strike on the military base.”
Mr Atambayev added that his administration will honour a contract allowing the US lease of the base at Manas, a key logistical hub for the occupation in Afghanistan, until mid-2014.
Local residents and politicians have long called for the closure of the base, asserting that fuel dumps by US war planes devastate crops and cause illnesses.
Russia also has a military base in the former Soviet country.
Mr Atambayev, whose recent overtures to Moscow indicate he will continue the previous administration’s policy of cultivating friendly ties with the Kremlin, did not say anything about that base.
Kyrgyzstan‘s economic fortunes are inextricably linked with Russia, where around 500,000 Kyrgyz migrant workers reside.
Outgoing Social-Democratic President Roza Otunbayeva, who has been running the country since April 2010 when former authoritarian leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev was overthrown in a popular uprising, will step down shortly.
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Plane crashes in mountains
KYRGYZSTAN: A US military plane crashed in the mountains today.
The tanker-refuelling aircraft had three crew members, but it was unclear whether they had survived.
The US air base in the former Soviet republic was established in 2001 and helps supply its occupying armies in Afghanistan.
It is the subject of an ongoing dispute with the Kyrgyz government, which wants to shut the base when the US lease expires in 2014 despite Washington’s opposition.
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