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OSCE Stalls On Police Mission To Kyrgyzstan

  • RFE/RL

The police mission is intended to help restore order after massive clashes in Kyrgyzstan's south last month.

The police mission is intended to help restore order after massive clashes in Kyrgyzstan's south last month.

Ministers of OSCE member countries have voiced support for sending an international police mission to Kyrgyzstan following last month's deadly ethnic clashes, but have failed to make solid plans for the deployment.

Diplomats of the 56-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe today wrapped up a second day of bilateral meetings at the Ak-Bulak resort near Almaty, Kazakhstan, without reaching a conclusion on the police mission.

They discussed sending international police forces to help restore stability in southern Kyrgyzstan, responding to a request from Kyrgyz leader Roza Otunbayeva, but did not name a date.

Earlier today, Kazakh State Secretary and Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabaev said the OSCE expected to formally approve the decision before the gathering ended. “The difficult situation in Kyrgyzstan can have strong destabilizing effects not only on the Central Asian region but also far beyond its borders," he said.

Top officials from the United States, Germany, France, and many other countries have joined Kazakhstan, which chairs the OSCE, in supporting the planned mission. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg told reporters at the OSCE meeting that an international police mission "will help restore order, especially on the eve of elections, and will promote a swift reconciliation between the two sides in southern Kyrgyzstan."

The OSCE on July 16 said it had agreed with the Kyrgyz government on the principles for an unarmed 52-member police advisory group to train and assist Kyrgyz security agencies for four months.

Ahead of the OSCE meeting, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner visited Kyrgyzstan's second-largest city of Osh to assess the damage.

Kyrgyz officials estimate that some 2,500 homes, more than 100 commercial buildings, and 10 government buildings were destroyed or badly damaged during the unrest.

Westerwelle told reporters in Almaty that bringing stability to Kyrgyzstan was a strategic priority. He said the majority of participants at the OSCE gathering backed the proposal to send an international police force to the country's volatile south.

"I have the impression that a great number of colleagues see this exactly the same way. I cannot say whether we will have a final resolution today, but we assume that this police mission will take place,” Westerwelle said. “We need it to stabilize the situation in Kyrgyzstan, and we all have a huge interest in this stabilization."

Also on the agenda of the OSCE meeting are issues ranging from European security to engagement with Afghanistan.

Kazakhstan, the first former Soviet country to hold the OSCE's rotating chairmanship, also used the gathering to promote its bid to hold a larger OSCE summit in the Kazakh capital of Astana later this year.

With material from agency reports. RFE/RL's Kazakh Service contributed to this report.