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Clinton Presses Human Rights in Uzbekistan

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, and Uzbek Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov seen during a meeting at the airport in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Dec. 2, 2010

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged Uzbekistan's president, Islam Karimov, to take steps to protect human rights. Clinton met the Uzbek leader Thursday in Tashkent as part of her tour of the region.

In prepared remarks, Clinton said no country, including the United States, has a "monopoly" on wisdom about human rights. She said when the United States talks to Uzbekistan about religious and media freedom, torture, or child labor, it does so "in a spirit of mutual respect."

Additionally, Clinton was expected to discuss Uzbekistan's role as a supply route for equipment bound for NATO forces in Afghanistan - a theme of her Central Asian tour.

The State Department says the U.S. and Uzbekistan also have signed an agreement to expand cooperation in science and technology.

Clinton met earlier Thursday with Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva in Bishkek, praising Krygyzstan for its efforts to form a coalition government following the October parliamentary elections.

She also discussed with Ms. Otunbayeva the status of the accord giving U.S. military aircraft en route to Afghanistan access to the Manas air base near Bishkek.

The top U.S. diplomat began her trip in Kazakhstan, where she attended a summit of The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Clinton told the group Wednesday it needs to boost its role in Afghanistan and promote human rights throughout the region.

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

Clinton closes her trip Friday 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.