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Uzbek Foreign Minister, U.S. Officials Hold Talks In Washington

WASHINGTON -- An Uzbek delegation led by the authoritarian Central Asia nation's foreign minister met with senior U.S. officials in Washington on January 19 for consultations on a range of issues, including human rights and security.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal welcomed the Uzbek delegation, led by Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov, for the sixth U.S.-Uzbekistan Annual Bilateral Consultations.

The two sides were set to address "political developments, regional stability and security, human rights and labor, education and cultural exchanges, and economic development and trade, and other issues of mutual interest," a State Department official told RFE/RL.

Autocratic Uzbek President Islam Karimov has been in power since the Soviet era and tolerates little dissent.

International rights groups have long accused his government of rampant abuses, including imprisoning and torturing political opponents, and have urged Washington to step up pressure on Tashkent over its human rights record.

The State Department official said the United States "looks forward to broadening and deepening its relationship with Uzbekistan on the basis of these candid and constructive conversations."

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