US says ready to finalise Kyrgyz airbase talks
BISHKEK, Apr 20 (Reuters) The United States said today it was ready to finalise talks on the use of a military airbase in Kyrgyzstan -- a day after the Central Asian state threatened to shut it down.
''We are committed to a quick conclusion of our talks with the Kyrgyz authorities on the continued use of the Manas Coalition Airbase in Kyrgyzstan,'' the US embassy in Kyrgyzstan said in remarks sent by email.
''It is in both the United States' and the Kyrgyz Republic's interests to continue our cooperation on keeping terrorists out of the region.'' US forces set up the base when they overthrew the Islamist Taliban government in near-by Afghanistan in 2001.
Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev yesterday told the United States that he could shut it down if Washington did not agree to a new contract.
Bakiyev had previously called on the United States to pay more for the base but said the Americans could stay until Afghanistan is stable.
REUTERS SHB BST1854