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German FM heads to Russia, Central Asia

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German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle will attend Russian-German interstate consultations in Russia's Urals on Wednesday and Thursday before traveling to Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle will attend Russian-German interstate consultations in Russia's Urals on Wednesday and Thursday before traveling to Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Andreas Peschke said.

Westerwelle will meet with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov late on Wednesday in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, where the Russian-German talks will take place. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will also attend the meeting.

On Thursday, the German minister will fly to the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, where he will meet with President Islam Karimov and Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov, Peschke said, adding that the talks will focus on the situation with Kyrgyz refugees.

More than 110 people fled to Uzbekistan from neighboring Kyrgyzstan amid deadly interethnic clashes that swept through the Central Asia republic in mid-June. Most of the refugees returned to Kyrgyzstan when the riots were over, but many of them still remain in Uzbekistan.

On Friday, Westerwelle, together with his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner, will visit the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh, where the clashes broke out on June 11, Peschke said. Hundreds of houses were destroyed in the Osh region during a week of riots that killed up to 300 people, according to official figures. Kyrgyz officials admit that the real death toll may be 10 times higher.

The two ministers will also visit the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, for talks with Roza Otunbayeva, who was approved in a recent referendum as the country's president for a transitional period until 2012.

"The talks will focus on the situation in Kyrgyzstan in general, particularly ahead of the parliamentary elections due in the fall and aimed at stabilizing the situation for a long term," the German Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Westerwelle will wrap up his Central Asian tour by attending an informal meeting of foreign ministers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to be held in the Kazakh city of Almaty, Peschke said.

BERLIN, July 14 (RIA Novosti)

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