An advance contingent of 190 French military personnel have arrived in Kyrgystan to help prepare an airport for use by the anti-terrorist coalition in Afghanistan.
The commander of the French unit (Col. Saster Kochanowski), today (Saturday), told reporters at Bishkek's Manas Airport that the French advance force included doctors, cooks, engineers and other support personnel.
The commander said the troops are joining 16 French servicemen already at the airport. They will help in preparation for the arrival of another 200 members of the French contingent and six Mirage jet fighters. He said a total of 450 French troops would eventually be stationed at Manas.
Two hundred Americans are deployed at the base, which is located about 30 kilometers outside Bishkek. It will eventually house three thousand U-S troops.
The French jets will make flights to Afghanistan to support coalition anti-terrorist operations.
Russia, which considers Kyrgystan and other former Soviet states as its own backyard, has not objected to the anti-terrorist coalition deployments.