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U.S. keeps close eye on situation in violence-hit Kyrgyzstan

RIA Novosti

08:01 16/06/2010

WASHINGTON, June 16 (RIA Novosti) - The U.S. is holding talks with Russia on the situation in violence-hit Kyrgyzstan and is ready to provide aid to the Central Asian republic, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, Philip Crowley, has said.

At least 179 people have been killed in clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek groups in southern Kyrgyzstan. The unrest, which has also left some 1,800 people injured, started in the city of Osh on June 11 and then spread to the neighboring Jalalabad region.

"We consulted directly with the interim president [Roza Otunbayeva]. Our Embassy has been in continual touch with the Kyrgyz government," Crowley said, adding "our advice to the interim president was to work through the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] and the UN."

He said Washington has also been "consulting closely with international countries, including Russia, that have an interest in this part of the world."

"Thus far, we've provided just under a million dollars in humanitarian assistance in the form of medical emergency supplies, bandages, surgical instruments, and clothing. We're prepared to airlift medicines as needed," the U.S. official said.

The U.S. has a transit center on the territory of Manas Airport at the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, which is vital for supplying troops in Afghanistan.

Crowley said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake will visit Bishkek on Friday and Saturday for direct consultations with the Kyrgyz government.

On Wednesday, Blake will visit the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, and then travel to Kyrgyzstan's Fergana Valley in order to study the situation, Crowley said.

More than 80,000 ethnic Uzbeks have reportedly fled from Kyrgyzstan to neighboring Uzbekistan amid clashes, which have been described by some Kyrgyz rights activists as "genocide." Uzbeks make up about half the population in the turbulent area.

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