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Kyrgyzstan: New U.S. Ambassador Sees Country As Reform Model

Washington, 30 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - A senior U.S. diplomat says Kyrgyzstan is a pacesetter and model for reform in Central Asia.

The diplomat, Anne Marie Sigmund, said it is in the U.S. interest to see that the Kyrgyz people succeed in building a stable democracy and to support their efforts.

Sigmund has been nominated to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan. She made the statement in testimony yesterday before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a hearing to confirm her appointment and three other nominations.

Kygyzstan, however, came under criticism earlier this year by independent journalists for harassing reporters and opposition leaders. And a World Bank-sponsored survey said poverty is spreading in Kyrgyzstaan, with about half of the population living in beggarly conditions.

The other nominees appearing with Sigmund were Daniel Speckhard, to be U.S. Ambassador to Belarus, Richard Kauzlarich to be Ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina and James Pardew to be U.S. Special Representative for military stabilization in the Balkans with the rank of Ambassador.