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Obama Congratulates Uzbekistan On 20th Independence Anniversary

A combo photo of U.S. President Barack Obama (left) and Uzbek President Islam Karimov (undated)
The White House says U.S. President Barack Obama has telephoned President Islam Karimov to congratulate Uzbekistan on its 20th anniversary of independence from the Soviet Union.

In an apparent reference to Uzbekistan's documented human rights shortcomings, a White House statement said Obama expressed the view that "a more prosperous and secure Uzbekistan benefits" both Uzbekistan and the United States, and that "advancing democracy supports" prosperity and security.

The U.S. statement said the two presidents also discussed their "shared interests in supporting a stable, secure and prosperous Afghanistan," Uzbekistan's neighbor, and efforts to reach that goal.

The statement said Obama offered congratulations on Uzbekistan's 20 years of independence, and said the two presidents "discussed their shared desire to develop a multi-dimensional relationship between the United States and Uzbekistan, including by strengthening the contacts between American and Uzbek civil societies and private sector."

Critics of Tashkent's rights record -- including a recent appeal against a "business-as-usual" approach to Uzbekistan -- have highlighted torture allegations and Uzbekistan's use of child labor, particularly in its massive cotton harvest.

based on agency and RFE/RL reports