April 16, 2010 in Nation/World

Air base resumes all flights

Unrest in Kyrgyzstan had halted U.S. operations
Yuras Karmanau Associated Press
Associated Press photo

A U.S. serviceman checks equipment at Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan on Thursday. The base has resumed full operations, the U.S. Embassy said Thursday.
(Full-size photo)

Bakiyev leaves

 OSH, Kyrgyzstan – The deposed president of Kyrgyzstan left the country Thursday for neighboring Kazakhstan, allaying fears of a civil war in the Central Asian nation.

 The presidents of the United States, Russia and Kazakhstan helped arrange for Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev to leave. Bakiyev fled after the provisional government’s warning that he should leave quickly or face trial.

MANAS, Kyrgyzstan – The U.S. air base near Kyrgyzstan’s capital was fully back in action Thursday providing critical support to the NATO campaign in Afghanistan, with planes taking off and landing throughout the day.

The flights were halted April 7 after a day of violent protests that ousted the president and as a new provisional government worked to establish control. The upheaval also raised concerns about the future of the U.S. base, but the leader of the new government said Tuesday that the lease would be extended.

The Manas base provides refueling flights for warplanes over Afghanistan and serves as a major transit hub for troops.

The full resumption of operations was announced Thursday by the U.S. Embassy, which also confirmed that some embassy personnel and their families have been temporarily moved to the base as a security precaution.

Crews from Fairchild Air Force Base routinely rotate through Manas.

Refueling flights had resumed within two days, but troop transports were suspended for a week, other than a brief resumption on April 9 to allow a few hundred troops who were stranded at the base to fly back to the United States, according to the U.S. Central Command.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake was in Bishkek, the Kyrgyzstan capital, for talks with the new leadership, but he said Manas was not the main focus.

“But we do appreciate the statements the provisional government has made about their intention to continue to abide by the agreement that we have,” Blake told reporters.

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