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Rice Begins Central Asian Tour


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice starts a tour of Central Asian countries Tuesday, to promote democratic and economic reforms, while securing support for the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

Ms. Rice stops first in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, where she is to hold talks with top government officials, including President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, and participate in a panel discussion on democracy and reforms.

She will also travel to Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.

Monday, Ms. Rice said she also might visit Pakistan to show U.S. support for earthquake victims.

The trip does not include a stop in Uzbekistan. A top State Department official has expressed concern over recent decisions by the Uzbek government and a "general climate of fear" in the country.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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