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Russia dismisses rumors of talks with U.S. on Manas airbase


MOSCOW, February 11 (RIA Novosti) - Media reports that the decision to close down a U.S. base in Kyrgyzstan has been delayed due to Moscow and Washington holding talks on the issue are false, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

"The possibility of the talks between Russia and the U.S. is out of question, because the issue of the airbase at Manas is an internal affair of the sovereign and independent state of Kyrgyzstan," the ministry said in a statement.

The base at Manas airport, some 30 kilometers (17 miles) east of the country's capital, Bishkek, hosts over 1,000 U.S. military personnel and nine military transport and refueling planes.

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced plans to close down the base, used to support NATO operations in nearby Afghanistan since 2001, after talks on February 3 in Moscow, where he secured substantial financial aid from Russia.

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.

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.

The United States will have 180 days to withdraw its aircraft and 1,000 military personnel from the base once the agreement is formally terminated.

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