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U.S. Urges Kyrgyzstan To Meet World Standards On Refugees

An Uzbek refugee camp in Kyrgyzstan Washington, 29 June 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The United States today urged the interim government of Kyrgyzstan not to return any Uzbeks to their native country until their refugee status can be determined.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that determination is best made in close consultation with Kamel Morjane, assistant UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR).

"We believe the government of Kyrgyzstan needs to live up to its commitments and to international standards," he said. "And part of that is working with the UNHCR to see that international obligations as well as treatment of those who would be refugees is consistent with the international standards that exist."

Hundreds of Uzbeks fled to neighboring Kyrgyzstan after the bloodshed in Andijon six weeks ago. Tashkent has sought the return of 133 of them, saying they are responsible for the violence.

Acting Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev says he will deal with that request in accordance with international humanitarian commitments, as well as his country's bilateral agreements with Uzbekistan.

Morjane says he is trying to arrange to have the Uzbeks moved to a third country. He says he is negotiating such transfers with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States.