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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 October 2005, 18:55 GMT 19:55 UK
US gets deal on Kyrgyz air base
By Jonathan Beale
BBC state department correspondent, Bishkek

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Kyrgyz PM Felix Kulov
The deal was clinched after the "very tough" talks
The US and Kyrgyzstan have reached an agreement to allow US-led coalition forces to continue using a military base near the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek.

The deal followed talks between US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President Kurmanbek Bakiev in Bishkek.

The base has been used to launch missions in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion to oust the Taleban.

Kyrgyzstan had earlier urged the US to set a timetable for its withdrawal from military bases in Central Asia.

Corruption claims

One senior US diplomat described the negotiations between Ms Rice and President Bakiev for a continued US military presence at the Manas air base as "very tough".

The airport remains crucial to the Americans, with 1,700 troops and millions of gallons of fuel passing through every month.

It has become all the more important since Uzbekistan told the Americans to leave the K2 base there by the end of the year.

The statement agreed in Bishkek says that Kyrgyzstan supports the presence of coalition forces at Manas until the mission of fighting terrorism in Afghanistan is completed.

Kyrgyzstan still wants to discuss payment for the use of the base.

The US has paid about $50m in the past year, but the new government in Kyrgyzstan has expressed concerns about corruption.

They believe some of the money was taken by the son of former President Askar Akayev.

Mr Akayev was ousted from power in March of this year.

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