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EU Likely To Delay Decision On Uzbek Sanctions

(RFE/RL) BRUSSELS, March 1, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- European Union foreign ministers are expected to postpone until May any decision on the fate of EU sanctions against Uzbekistan when they gather in Brussels on March 5.

A draft declaration agreed by EU ambassadors on February 28 and seen by RFE/RL says the bloc remains "seriously concerned" about the human rights situation in the country.

A postponement will mean that while the EU is open to "technical" meetings with Uzbek officials, an arms embargo will remain in place, together with a travel ban on officials held directly responsible for the brutal suppression of a protest in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijon in May 2005.

The document goes on to express "regret" that Uzbekistan only consented to holding a single round of talks with EU experts on the Andijon events.

Those talks took place in Tashkent in December.

The draft EU declaration also says Uzbekistan must agree to launch "an early, meaningful, and regular human rights dialogue" with the EU.

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