US, Kyrgyzstan to discuss key air base: official

Kyrgyzstan has invited the United States to discuss retaining the Manas air base outside Bishkek that serves as a key supply route to Afghanistan, a senior US official said in Moscow on Friday.
"We've agreed to enter into discussions with the Kyrgyz at their invitation on the possibility of the agreement (on the air base remaining in force)," the official, who asked not to be named, said in Moscow.
Kyrgyzstan on February 20 officially set in motion the process for closing the airbase at Manas, outside the Kyrgyz capital, by handing the United States a 180-day notice to leave the base.
The base is a vital support post for US and Western operations, as it is used for ferrying tens of thousands of troops in and out of Afghanistan each year and also hosts planes used for mid-air refuelling of combat craft.
Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Kadyrbek Sarbayev said on Thursday after talks in Moscow that Kyrgyzstan was not reconsidering its decision to close the US airbase.