Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ecuador says US must leave Manta air base

Associated Press

The U.S. military must stop using its only outpost in South America for anti-drug flights when Washington's 10-year lease on the base in Ecuador expires in 2009, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

Leftist President Rafael Correa has repeatedly said that Ecuador would not renew the agreement to use the Manta air base, but Tuesday's Foreign Ministry statement said the South American nation has now formally notified the U.S. Embassy of the decision.

Some 300 U.S. soldiers are stationed at the Pacific base and flights from Manta are responsible for about 60 percent of U.S. drug interdiction in the eastern Pacific.

The statement said that surveillance flights will end in August 2009 "and the withdrawal of foreign personnel from the Ecuadorean Air Force base in Manta will end in November of that year."

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