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Last Updated: Monday, 13 November 2006, 11:34 GMT
EU renews Uzbekistan sanctions
File photograph of some victims of Andijan uprising in Uzbekistan in May 2005
Uzbek relations with the West took a turn for the worse after Andijan
The European Union has renewed sanctions against Uzbekistan, imposed after the 2005 killing of civilians by security forces in Andijan.

EU foreign ministers agreed to extend an arms embargo and a travel ban for a number of top officials.

But they did agree to resume low-level talks, acknowledging recent moves by Uzbek President Islam Karimov to address concerns over his policies.

Eyewitnesses say hundreds of people were killed during the Andijan unrest.

President Karimov said 187 people were killed, and blamed the unrest on Islamic militants.

Andijan discussions

In a statement, the 25 EU foreign ministers said they were "profoundly concerned by the human rights situation" in the resource-rich Central Asian state.

The EU "urges Uzbekistan to implement fully its international obligations related to human rights and fundamental freedoms", the statement added.

The ministers agreed to extend the arms ban for another 12 months and the visa restrictions for 12 senior officials for another six months. The measures will be reviewed in three months.

However, ministers did agree to lift a freeze on technical meetings at ministerial level.

This will allow for a meeting between EU and Uzbek officials to discuss the events in Andijan, as agreed by the Uzbek Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov in talks with EU officials in Brussels last week.

Some countries, including Germany, have been pushing for an easing of sanctions and greater dialogue, backing the view that sanctions have done little to improve the human rights situation in Uzbekistan and simply pushed the country closer to Russia.

But rights groups called on the EU not only to extend sanctions, but broaden them out so that the visa ban includes President Karimov and his family.

They say the human rights situation in the country has deteriorated rather than improved since Andijan.




SEE ALSO
Europe's Uzbekistan dilemma
13 Nov 06 |  Asia-Pacific
EU bans arms sales to Uzbekistan
03 Oct 05 |  Asia-Pacific
How the Andijan killings unfolded
17 May 05 |  Asia-Pacific
US calls for Uzbek killings probe
13 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Uzbekistan
29 Oct 06 |  Country profiles

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