BISHKEK, October 26 (RIA Novosti) - French and Spanish troops have left a Kyrgyz airbase formerly used by the U.S. military and now functioning as a center for Pentagon transits to Afghanistan, the center's spokesman said on Monday.
"The servicemen from France and Spain have left the center over the expiry of the term of agreements that was due to the closure of the Manas air base for the anti-terrorist coalition forces," the spokesman said.
Kyrgyz media reported, citing "well-placed" foreign sources, that Spain and France had stopped using the airbase after the negotiations with Bishkek on prolonging cooperation to ensure the transit of troops and cargoes to Afghanistan yielded no results.
In February, the ex-Soviet Central Asian state ordered the shutdown of the base, which had been used to support U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan since 2001. The decision was widely seen as being influenced by Russia, which had granted Kyrgyzstan a large financial aid package.
However, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev signed in July a law allowing the U.S. to continue using the airbase.
The U.S. will now pay Kyrgyzstan $60 million annually for the use of the airbase as a transit route to Afghanistan, compared with the previous sum of $17.4 million, which the former Soviet republic received for the use of its airbase.