U.S. Congress gears Uzbekistan towards democratic reforms


WASHINGTON, June 28 (RIA Novosti, Alexander Smotrov) - The U.S. House of Representatives considered a resolution Tuesday on military and financial aid for Uzbek democratic reforms and an independent investigation into the uprising in the southern city of Andijan.

An official with the U.S. House of Representatives Secretariat said the resolution would be voted on Thursday.

The resolution states that U.S. President George W. Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice should stipulate an independent international investigation of violence in Andijan as a "condition for diplomatic cooperation and security assistance."

According to the resolution, Rumsfeld and Rice should take into account human rights issue in Uzbekistan and the implementation of political reforms, while determining the scale and type of assistance possible within the framework of political and military cooperation with Uzbekistan.

The resolution says the U.S. should verify that assistance would not be provided to security forces involved in human-rights violations and the violence in Andijan.

The U.S. Administration should also support individuals, NGOs and media in Uzbekistan involved in the formation of a more open society and transparent and democratic rule, the resolution says.

Uzbek officials say that on May 13, a group of armed people freed some hundreds of inmates from a local prison, including some members of extremist's organizations. Security forces reported 176 casualties of the uprising, but journalists and human rights activists put the number much higher. Uzbek authorities say Islamic militants were responsible for the uprising.

Andijan is the administrative center of the Andijan region in the Fergana Valley, in the northeastern part of Uzbekistan, with a population of more than 300,000 people. The region lies at the junction of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. In the late 80s and early 90s, the valley witnessed sanguinary ethnic turmoil.

Islamic radicalism has always had a strong position in the region.

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