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Rice Lauds Kyrgyzstan's Democratic Progress

Condoleezza Rice is greeted by U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Marie Yovanovitch in Bishkek today 11 October 2005 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Kyrgyzstan today for her first stop in a three-day tour of Central Asia.

Rice took part in a roundtable discussion on Kyrgyz reforms and constitutional issues in Bishkek before meeting with Prime Minister Feliks Kulov and President Kurmanbek Bakiev.

"It is good to be here in Kyrgyzstan at a time of excitement and a time of promise," Rice said during a press conference. "We watched with great interest the 'tulip revolution.' We watched with great interest the Kyrgyz people who decided to take fate into their own hands and to give themselves a chance for democracy."
"I came here to Kyrgyzstan so that you might know, whether in government or in civil society, that you will have a steady friend in the United States who believes, too, in democratic values, and as those democratic values take root here in Kyrgyzstan, relations between the United States and Kyrgyzstan will only grow." -- Rice

She also urged Kyrgyzstan's constitutional council to complete reforms soon, saying: "I want to urge the constitutional council to complete the reform process by the end of 2005, forming a new constitution in open partnership with parliament and the full range of society."

Rice will be in Kazakhstan tomorrow for talks with President Nursultan Nazarbaev. She has called on the Kazakh leader to ensure the country's 4 December presidential election is free and fair.

The U.S. secretary of state is also due to visit Tajikistan and Afghanistan. She also plans to make a side trip to Pakistan following the country's devastating earthquake on 8 October.

(RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service/Reuters/AP/AFP)

See also:

U.S. Secretary Of State Rice Begins Central Asian Tour

Secretary Of State Rice Prepares To Visit Central Asia, Afghanistan

For RFE/RL's full coverage of events in Central Asia, see "Central Asia In Focus"

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