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U.S. Official Backs OSCE Police Mission


U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg at a press conference in Bishkek on July 18

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg at a press conference in Bishkek on July 18

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg has voiced support for a decision to send a small multinational police force to Kyrgyzstan, saying the move will help prevent any possible outbreak of violence.

Kyrgyzstan was racked by ethnic violence in June, raising international concerns for the stability of the Central Asian country. Hundreds of people were killed.

A meeting on July 17 among 56 member states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) concluded with a decision to send a small, 52-member police force to Kyrgyzstan.

"We've all seen the terrible consequences of allowing events to get out of control. It gives us all the more reason to focus on an urgent basis to prevent that from happening," Steinberg told reporters in Bishkek.

"That is why we have supported very strongly the OSCE police presence," he said after talks with Kyrgyz interim president Roza Otunbaeva.

Steinberg, who met with Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbaeva in Bishkek earlier today, also told journalists that the U.S. is pushing for a "credible" investigation into the violence.

"The first thing which I think there's a broad recognition of is that we do need to have accountability and [an] understanding [of] what happened," Steinberg said.

"I think that there are a number of factors that likely contributed to the violence, but what is important is to have a systemic and credible inquiry into what the factors were that went into it. And I know that the government here has established its own commission, but it's also asked the international community to play a role. And I think that's very important."

The United States operates a critical military base in Kyrgyzstan.

RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service with agencies
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