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EU Vows To Push Uzbek President On Human Rights During Visit

Uzbek President Islam Karimov
The European Union plans to pressure Uzbek President Islam Karimov to push forward with human rights reforms in his country when he visits Brussels on January 24.

European Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly said today that human rights would be the first point of the agenda when Karimov meets the commission's president, Jose Manuel Barroso.

"The meeting next week will put human rights and domestic reforms on top of the agenda and, as we did already in the past, we'll identify a clear concern about human rights," Bailly said.

Karimov's regime was blacklisted by the EU in 2005 for refusing to allow an international investigation into the killing of hundreds of demonstrators in the city of Andijon.

The sanctions were lifted in 2009, but human rights groups say Karimov's regime still carries out major rights abuses.

Bailly said that "the entire EU" had decided not to follow a policy of isolation with Uzbekistan, opting instead for "critical and conditional engagement."

compiled from agency reports