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Human Rights Watch Delegation To Visit Uzbekistan

People pray in front of the bodies of victims of the government crackdown in Andijon in May 2005.

A Human Rights Watch (HRW) delegation will visit Uzbekistan for the first time since its office was suspended in the Central Asian country in July 2011.

HRW Central Asia researcher Steve Sverdlow told RFE/RL on July 19 that Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov stated on July 17 at a meeting of the EU-Uzbekistan council in Brussels that the HRW delegation will come to Tashkent in August.

Kamilov also said that other international organizations are welcome to visit his country to establish cooperation.

Sverdlow said it was a surprise for him and other HRW representatives to learn the news as HRW had not received an answer from Uzbek officials to its request to visit Uzbekistan.

Sverdlow, who will lead the HRW delegation to Uzbekistan, said HRW supports Tashkent's move to widen its cooperation with international organizations, adding that HRW is awaiting Uzbek authorities concrete steps to improve the human rights situation in the country.

Uzbekistan has taken timid steps toward liberalization after President Shavkat Mirziyaev came to power following the death of authoritarian ruler Islam Karimov last year.