The Parliament of Kyrgyzstan on Thursday ratified a new agreement that will enable US and coalition forces to continue using Manas Air Base, which is a central mobility hub for operations in Afghanistan, despite an earlier decision to oust the US. Now all that remains is for Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev to sign it. Reporters questioned Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell the day before about rumors of the new agreement, asking in particular if the rent had gone up. Morrell replied that he would not go into any monetary compensation arrangement, but he said, “There is give and take in any negotiation, and I think we arrived at a place where we both felt comfortable.” According to a June 25 Pentagon report, the new agreement raised the rent for use of the facility from the $17.4 million the US had been paying annually to $60 million per year. About 15,000 troops and some 500 tons of cargo transit the base every month.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.