Kyrgyzstan should play 'active role' in Afghanistan

22nd June 2009, Comments 0 comments

France joined the growing chorus of voices urging Kyrgyzstan to cooperate with NATO forces in nearby Afghanistan.

Bishkek – France on Monday joined the growing chorus of voices urging Kyrgyzstan to cooperate with NATO forces in nearby Afghanistan, as the deadline for the closure of a key US airbase on its territory looms.

France's special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Pierre Lellouch appealed to Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, whose government is just weeks away from evicting the US airbase at Manas, to help stabilise its war-torn neighbour.

"France hopes that Kyrgyzstan, in concert with the forces of the international community, continues to play an active role in the process of establishing peace in Afghanistan," he said in a statement released by Bakiyev's office.

Kyrgyzstan has ordered US forces to quit the US airbase at Manas -- which is used to support operations in Afghanistan -- by 18 August in a decision widely seen as made under pressure from Moscow.

But a flurry of diplomatic activity in recent weeks -- including a direct appeal from Afghan President Hamid Karzai to keep the base open -- has caused intense speculation over the fate of the base.

Kyrgyzstan appeared to soften its position on Friday, when it became the last of the five Central Asian states to offer to open its territory for the transit of non-lethal cargo to Afghanistan.

Manas is used to ferry tens of thousands of troops in and out of Afghanistan each year.

The loss of the base would deal a major blow to coalition military efforts at a time when US President Barack Obama is seeking to boost the campaign against the Taliban.

AFP / Expatica

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