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German Chancellor Merkel Makes First Visit To Kyrgyzstan July 13

Chancellor Angela Merkel will pay an official visit to Kyrgyzstan on July 13-14, the German leader’s first visit to the Central Asian nation.

Merkel will hold talks with Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev as well as Kyrgyz parliamentarians and representatives of the civil society, the president’s press office said.

Merkel and Atambaev will discuss bilateral ties, regional, and international issues, it added.

The visit comes one day after the Kyrgyz Supreme Court overturned a life sentence against activist Azimjon Askarov but ordered a retrial over allegations that the ethnic Uzbek fomented violence six years ago.

Human rights activists questioned whether the apparent softening in the Askarov case was timed to coincide with Merkel's visit, but continued to say the charges against Askarov were fabricated and he should be released unconditionally.

In March, Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asian states, in a trip that German Foreign Ministry said focused on the fight against terrorism, regional cooperation, and economic ties.

With reporting by Interfax and RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service

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