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US Urges Dialogue in Kyrgyzstan


The United States Wednesday deplored the political violence in Kyrgyzstan and urged dialogue between the government and opposition protestors. The State Department said it understood the Bishkek government of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was still functioning despite reports the leadership had resigned.

The United States has long been critical of the Kyrgyz government's human rights record. But the Bakiyev government has made a key air base available for U.S. military flights to Afghanistan.

And officials at the State Department are appealing to both sides in the political conflict there to resolve differences peacefully.

State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said the United States is monitoring the situation in Bishkek closely, deplores the violence, and urges a full investigation of and accountability for any incidents of death and mistreatment.

"We have reached out to government and civil society leaders to urge calm and non-violence and respect for the rights of citizens, especially under emergency situations," he said. "We urge all parties to show respect for the rule of law and resolve differences in a peaceful, orderly and legal manner."

Crowley said a senior Kyrgyz delegation led by Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev and Maxim Bakiyev, son of the president, is en route to Washington for a previously planned high-level dialogue with U.S. officials.

He said he expected those discussions to go forward though the start of the talks has been pushed back to Friday because of the unrest in Bishkek.

Crowley said American concerns about political intimidation and corruption in Kyrgyzstan are well documented in State Department human rights reports, though the United States has interests with and works closely with the sitting government.

"We are allied with that government in terms of its support for international operations in Afghanistan," he said. "But we identify with the concerns that the people of Kyrgyzstan have about their future. But their concerns should be a matter for peaceful dialogue as opposed to violent demonstrations."

The spokesman said the Manas airbase in northern Kyrgyzstan near Bishkek, a key transit hub for U.S. and allied flights to and from Afghanistan, was functioning normally, and that the U.S. embassy remained open.

The embassy issued a warden message to the American community in Kyrgyzstan advising caution in the face of the turmoil. All U.S. citizens there are reported safe and accounted for.

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