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Decision due on U.S. base in Kyrgyzstan

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev will make a decision on the future of a U.S. military base in Kyrgyzstan by next month, an official said Thursday.

Azhibai Kalmamatov, an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe delegate from the Central Asian country, said before Bakiyev visits Moscow in early February, the Kyrgyz leader will make a final decision on the diplomatic matter, RIA Novosti reported.

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"There are now two (foreign) military bases in Kyrgyzstan -- one U.S., one Russian," Kalmamatov said. "The issue on the future of the American base is now being looked at and will be decided before the president of Kyrgyzstan visits Russia."

Sources have claimed the U.S. base, which opened in December 2001, has been targeted for closure by the Kyrgyz government.

The Manas airport base houses more than 1,000 U.S. military personnel and nine military airplanes.

RIA Novosti said the head of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. David Petraeus, remains hopeful the U.S. base will remain open as he said last week U.S. officials are eying upgrades to the military's Kyrgyz base.

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