Afghans, Kyrgyz may discuss leaving US base open

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan – A high-ranking Kyrgyz official says the Central Asian nation's president may meet with Afghan leader Hamid Karzai to discuss the possibility of letting U.S.-led forces continue using an air base to support operations in Afghanistan.

Aibek Moldogaziyev said Monday that President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and Karzai might discuss the Manas air base during an upcoming security summit in Russia.

Moldogaziyev serves in Bakiyev's administration.

Bakiyev announced in February that the U.S. base would be closed, citing what he said was inadequate financial compensation and other concerns. Kyrgyzstan has given U.S. forces until Aug. 18 to leave.

Moldogaziyev said that Karzai has approached the Kyrgyz authorities with an appeal to allow further use of Manas by coalition partners.

A young sea turtle is seen on Runduma island, Wakatobi. AFP/File/Adek Berry