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Friday, April 15, 2005; Page A21

Kyrgyzstan Reassures Rumsfeld on Air Base

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- Leaders of Kyrgyzstan's interim government assured Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Thursday that political upheaval in the former Soviet republic would not jeopardize American use of an air base to support the war in Afghanistan.

It was Rumsfeld's final stop on a four-day trip that also took him to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The base at Manas airport in Kyrgyzstan has about 1,000 U.S. military personnel and is considered an important hub in a network of airfields that give the Pentagon the logistical reach it needs to operate in landlocked Afghanistan and elsewhere in Central Asia.

Rumsfeld arrived in the country days after the Kyrgyz parliament accepted the resignation of former President Askar Akayev, who fled to Moscow after an uprising in late March. Rumsfeld met with the country's interim leaders, headed by acting President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

At a joint news conference, Bakiyev said he had assured Rumsfeld that Kyrgyzstan would "comply with all its international agreements," including the deal for U.S. use of Manas airport.


GENEVA -- The U.N. Human Rights Commission condemned Israel's settlement of "occupied Palestinian territory," including the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and demanded the government reverse the policy.

The 53-member U.N. watchdog also criticized Cuban rights abuses and requested U.N. monitoring of the communist country. The commission was also expected to vote on resolutions condemning abuses in Belarus and Sudan.

Israel's ambassador, Itzhak Levanon, said the one-sided resolution brought shame on the United Nations and noted that Israel planned to withdraw from Gaza and the northern West Bank in a few months.

• PARIS -- A fire roared through a central Paris hotel early Friday, killing at least 13 people and injuring dozens, fire officials said. Some people leapt from windows to escape the flames.

The fire occurred in the capital's 9th district, an area frequented by tourists. At least 57 people were injured in the blaze that gutted the six-story Paris-Opera hotel, a fire services spokesman said.

THE americas

MONTERREY, Mexico -- Unidentified gunmen shot and killed a senior Mexican policeman in the city of Nuevo Laredo on the U.S. border, where a raging drug war left six policemen injured this week, police said.

Juan Antonio Santos, the municipal police coordinator, was shot nine times as he arrived at his home in the city, south of Laredo, Tex., late Wednesday, a police spokesman said.

-- From News Services

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