U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg met with Kyrgyzstan's President Rosa Otunbaeva and with representatives of civil society and the press, July 18th, in Bishkek to reaffirm the strong commitment of the United States to on-going humanitarian assistance and to reconstruction and reconciliation in Kyrgyzstan. Also participating were Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake and U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Tatiana Gfoeller.
"Right now the principle focus is to make sure that we have the ability of people to return to their homes, to have shelter for the winter, to help the schools reopen, to meet the near-term needs as well as to support the democratic process including the issues of human rights and accountability," said Deputy Secretary Steinberg.
Deputy Secretary Steinberg also stressed the importance of preventing a recurrence of the recent violence. "That is why we have supported very strongly the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe [OSCE] police presence," he said. "That's why we are working with Kyrgyzstan's neighbors and the international community to support the upcoming donors' conference."
The Deputy Secretary underscored the importance of international community participation in a "systematic and credible inquiry" into the June events.
In April, months of escalating anger toward the ruling government resulted in a violent populist uprising that ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Inter-ethnic tensions between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in southern Kyrgyzstan led to yet more clashes in the following months, the most serious of which lasted for 5 days in June. Several hundred people died, about 300 thousand were internally displaced and another 100 thousand fled to neighboring Uzbekistan.
To facilitate Kyrgyzstan's reconstruction and its transition to full democracy, accountable and transparent government, reliable law enforcement and judicial institutions that have the trust of the people, education and economic opportunities for people of all communities, and constructive dialogue between these communities are strongly recommended.
According to Deputy Secretary Steinberg, "We in the United States and the international community want to work with the government here and with the people of Kyrgyzstan to achieve these goals."