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Afghan Supply Mission Continues at Manas

Jim Garamone - American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 8, 2010 - Operations at the transit center at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan, are delayed but have not been adversely affected the supply mission in Afghanistan, U.S. officials said today. Anti-government protestors said they have overthrown the government of President Kurmanbek Bakiev and are in control of the capital of Bishkek. The unrest in the country has not affected operations at Manas, officials said.

"Currently there are limited operations at Manas Airfield," said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman. "Our support to Afghanistan continues and has not been seriously affected, and we are hopeful that we will be able to resume full operations soon."

The events in the capital have not affected U.S. forces in and around Manas a major supply port for the U.S. and NATO effort in Afghanistan. In fact, acting Prime Minister Roza Otunbayeva said during a Bishkek news conference that the status quo on Manas will remain in place.

"We are getting through operational channels that the unrest seems to have settled down," officials said on background. "There is no immediate threat to U.S. forces in the country."

Last year, the Kyrgyz parliament voted against the U.S. and NATO presence at the air base, through which almost all U.S. personnel going into or out of Afghanistan transit. At that time, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said the base was important to the U.S. transportation effort, "but not essential." The United States renegotiated the agreement with Kyrgyzstan, and the American effort remained in place.

While Manas eases operations, other elements of the U.S. transportation network to Afghanistan are unaffected, Whitman said. "We intentionally have multiple ways to be able to supply our forces," he added.

State Department officials said they continue to watch the political situation in Kyrgyzstan.

(Donna Miles of American Forces Press Service contributed to this story.)

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