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NATO : Uzbek Crackdown Could Harm Ties with Alliance

NATO has expressed concern at the recent government crackdown in Uzbekistan and warned Tashkent that its ties with the alliance depended on its commitment to basic human rights.

A NATO statement, issued Tuesday in Brussels, said the alliance condemns the reported use of excessive force against protesters and supports the United Nations' call for an independent inquiry into the events earlier this month.

Witnesses, human rights groups and Uzbek political opposition activists say the crackdown in the eastern part of the country killed up to 1,000 people. But Tashkent puts the death toll at 169, including 32 soldiers.

In another development, China today declared its support for the Uzbek government of President Islam Karimov, saying whatever happened in the country is an internal affair. President Karimov is to visit Beijing Wednesday.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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