Washington, 13 July 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The United States said today that the level of its aid to Uzbekistan this year could be affected by how Tashkent responds to Washington's call for an independent international investigation into the bloodshed at Andijon.
State Department spokesman Tom Casey said his agency must certify prospective recipients of U.S. aid before Congress can appropriate the money.
"We do have a certification process in place for our bilateral assistance to Uzbekistan. Last year we made a determination that Uzbekistan had not made sufficient progress on the criteria for that certification to allow the full amount of aid to move forward. There's no decision that has been taken on that in this year, but obviously how the government of Uzbekistan responds to this issue [a transparent probe] is certainly a factor in that decision making."
Because of last year's State Department report on Uzbekistan, Congress suspended $18 million from its aid package to Tashkent. But the Pentagon turned around and gave Uzbekistan $21 million. At the time, General Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the aid cut was "short-sighted."
On 13 May, Uzbek troops opened fire during a large protest in the eastern city of Andijon. The government says 187 people were killed, half of them armed militants. Human rights groups say as many as 750 people were killed.
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