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U.S. Handing Over 'Key' To Kyrgyz Base

The United States is officially closing the Manas air base it has used in Kyrgyzstan more than one month before the lease on the base expires.

U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Pamela Spratlen said on June 3 that the last service personnel at the Manas transit center would depart this week.

U.S. troops have been using the Manas base since December 2001 to support operations in nearby Afghanistan.

The commander of the base, Colonel John Millard, said his forces would hand over facilities and a "symbolic key" to the base to Kyrgyz officials on June 3.

The presence of U.S. troops at Manas has irritated China, which borders Kyrgyzstan, and Russia, which views Central Asia as its sphere of influence.

The United States' lease for using the Manas base was due to expire on July 11.
Based on reporting by ITAR-TASS and Interfax