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EU Foreign-Policy Chief In Uzbekistan

Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Erlan Abdyldaev (right) meets with EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton in Bishkek on November 27.
TASHKENT -- The European Union's foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton has held talks with Uzbek President Islam Karimov and Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov in Tashkent.

Later on November 28, Ashton discussed the human rights situation in Uzbekistan with local activists.

It is Ashton's second stop in her tour of Central Asia.

She arrived in Tashkent on November 28 from the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek where she discussed security and energy issues with foreign and deputy foreign ministers from five regional states.

Ashton said she wanted to see deeper cooperation on energy and trade with Europe.

She said the talks also focused on the withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan in 2014 and the impact that could have on the region.

Also on the agenda on November 27 was the rivalry over water resources between Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

Ashton said these talks also encompassed Internet freedom, the role of women, and the development of parliamentary models in a region dominated by Soviet-style hardliners.

Human Rights Watch had urged Ashton to use the tour of the region to raise human rights issues, particularly the jailing of rights activists.

Ashton maintained that human rights are an important issue for the EU.

"I always make sure that we weave into every conversation the issues of human rights. We may not call them that, we may not spell out those words, but they're fundamental and part of the values of the European Union," She said.

With reporting by AP and Central Asia Newswire