Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan topped the agenda as Foreign Minister and OSCE chairman Dimitrij Rupel met Friday, 01 July US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. The officials also briefly discussed EU enlargement, with Rupel insisting it should extend to the entire area of Western Balkans, not only Croatia
Rupel told the press after the meeting that his views on the situation in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, where the government is considering deporting 29 Uzbek refugees, got full US support. Slovenian and US standpoints are quite similar on this issue, according to the him.
Rupel said the US still firmly backs an independent international inquiry of the events that took place in the Uzbek city of Andijan this May, when the police shot at the protesters. "The US, OSCE and NATO are unanimous on this issue," Rupel stressed.
Moreover, the US backs the OSCE reform. Rupel invited Rice to attend the OSCE ministerial meeting in Ljubljana in December, and said he thinks she would come.
In reference to the meeting at the conclusion of Slovenian OSCE presidency, Rupel said a situation similar to that at the end of the Dutch and Bulgarian presidencies, when no concluding documents were adopted, should be avoided.
Rupel announced on Thursday, 30 June that he would also discuss EU issues with Rice. After today's meeting, 01 July he said he does not know to what extent the US is actually prepared to be engaged in positive changes in Europe, including further enlargement.
However, the minister said the US certainly supports those in favour of such changes. His impression was that the US position regarding Croatia, Turkey and the Western Balkans was favourable.
"It would be wrong for the EU enlargement to stop with Croatia. Another day will come after Croatia and others await their turn. Slovenia will not rest until the EU enlargement encompasses the entire Western Balkans," Rupel underscored.
He added he also discussed with Rice the OSCE role in determining a final status for Kosovo.
Source: Slovene Press Agency STA