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Clinton Asks OSCE for Greater Afghanistan Role

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the start of the OSCE Summit at the Palace of Independence in Astana, Kazakhstan, 01 Dec 2010

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe needs to boost its role in Afghanistan and promote human rights throughout the region.

Speaking Wednesday at the start of a two-day OSCE summit in Kazakhstan, Clinton said insecurity anywhere in Central Asia is a challenge for all members and that protracted conflicts remain "dangerously unresolved."

More than 60 officials from around the world have gathered in Astana for the group's first summit in 11 years.

Clinton said individual nations have contributed to helping secure and rebuild Afghanistan, but that the OSCE needs to play a role in improving border security and battling drug trafficking.

OSCE leaders are meeting for the first time in a former Soviet state and are marking the 35th anniversary of the Helsinki accords, which gave birth to the organization's structure.

Clinton told OSCE members they need to "make good" the human rights commitments they undertook with the organization's founding. She said leaders need to encourage freedom of press and govern democratically.

Clinton highlighted the need to prevent other conflicts in the region from reigniting, including those in Georgia, Moldova and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Clinton reiterated U.S. support for Georgian sovereignty and called for the OSCE to restore a "meaningful" presence to Georgia.

She also called for the resumption of talks to resolve the long-running crisis in the Transnistrian region of Moldova, which declared itself independent with the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.

On Tuesday, Clinton reaffirmed the U.S. government's commitment to improving human rights in Central Asia during a town hall meeting with students and community activists in Astana.

Clinton's trip to Kazakhstan is the first stop on a diplomatic tour that also will take her to Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Bahrain.

While in Astana, she also is scheduled to discuss the U.S.-Kazakh strategic partnership with President Nursultan Nazabayev and Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev.

In Kyrgyzstan, Clinton is due to meet with President Roza Otunbayeva and review political developments following the country's October parliamentary elections.

From Kyrgyzstan, Clinton will travel to the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, to hold talks with President Islam Karimov.

The top U.S. diplomat closes her trip in Bahrain, where she will deliver a keynote address at an annual forum, The Manama Dialogue 2010. She returns to the United States on December 3.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.