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One Last Push to Save Manas Air Base

The Washington Times reports that the Obama administration is sending a high-level delegation to Moscow to save access to a key air base for the Afghanistan war. Two weeks ago, the Russians basically bribed the Kyrgyzstan government to deny the United States use of its giant air base at Manas, a crucial hub for supplying troops in neighboring Afghanistan.

Pentagon and State Department officials have been frantically calling the Kyrgyz government to get it to reverse the decision — and it appears the parliament is delaying a vote on kicking the United States out — but now a delegation led by Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William J. Burns and the White House’s Russia specialist, Michael McFaul, are on their way to Moscow to deal with the patron as well as the client.

U.S. officials said they still hoped to persuade both Kyrgyzstan and Russia that, even though there are alternatives to the Manas base, its continued use would be most beneficial to Afghanistan’s stability. They also said they were open to Russian ideas about how cooperation in Central Asia can contribute to a better U.S.-Russia relationship.

Expect horsetrading, in other words.

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