Uzbekistan should "translate words into practice" to improve its human rights situation, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday during a brief visit to Tashkent.
The US is ready to "support and assist in that effort", Clinton added while meeting President Islam Karimov on Thursday during a visit to the ex-Soviet state that lasted only a few hours.
"I urged him to demonstrate his commitment through a series of steps, to ensure that human rights and fundamental freedoms are truly protected in this country," Clinton told NGO leaders at a meeting, a press statement said.
"I am well aware of the hardship that many of you experience because of the work that you do," she said.
Uzbekistan has rejected the accusations of mass human rights violations, notably the regime's systematic stifling of all form of opposition, which are regularly voiced by NGOs.
Clinton said she touched on restrictions on religious freedom, torture, and child labour.
"We raise these issues in all our interactions with the government and will continue to make improvement of human rights in Uzbekistan an integral part of expanding our bilateral relationship."
In an annual report published in January, US-based Human Rights Watch said the Uzbek government's human rights record remained "atrocious."
Clinton during her visit also signed a broad bilateral science and technology cooperation agreement with Uzbekistan's First Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov.