By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Kyrgyz officials have asked a U.S. military delegation for pilotless drone aircraft.
Kyrgyzstan’s Defense Council secretary Busurmankul Tabaldiev told RFE/RL the request was for U.S. drones to be left for Kyrgyzstan during the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan due by the end of 2014.
U.S. Marine Corps General James Mattis, leader of the U.S. delegation, reportedly replied that Washington is ready to consider the request.
Possible continuation of the use of Manas airport in Bishkek as a transit center for NATO after 2014 also was discussed.
NATO’s current lease at Manas expires in 2014.
Tabaldiev told the U.S. delegation Bishkek is ready to cooperate beyond 2014 “taking into account Kyrgyzstan’s interests, its security, and public opinion.”