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Kyrgyz President On Weeklong Visit To South

Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbaeva, pictured here in Brussels in February
Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbaeva today started a weeklong visit to the southern regions hit by ethnic clashes last year, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

She is accompanied on her trip by the parliamentary speaker, Akhmatbek Keldibekov.

An RFE/RL correspondent reported from Kara-Suu, a border town in Osh Oblast, that Otunbaeva met with local residents on the occasion of Norouz, the traditional New Year celebration marked in Kyrgyzstan today.

Otunbaeva said Norouz is an ancient festival of "peace, harmony, and renovation." She urged the local population to avoid any political provocations that could lead to bloodshed.

More than 400 local Uzbeks and Kyrgyz were killed in ethnic clashes in the southern regions of Osh and Jalal-Abad last year.

Read more in Kyrgyz here