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Rice Visits Afghanistan, Pakistan On Asian Tour

Rice yesterday in Bishkek Prague, 12 October 2005 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice continued her Asian tour with visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan today.

Rice told Afghan President Hamid Karzai that the United States will assist Afghanistan as long as necessary and praised the country's moves toward democracy.

In Pakistan, Rice promised long-term U.S. help for the country in the aftermath of an earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people.

Rice is due to meet with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev tomorrow. Ahead of Rice's visit, Kazakh security forces today detained Tolen Tokhtasynov, a prominent Kazakh opposition figure, who was scheduled to meet with Rice.

Tolen heads a political group supporting Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, the presidential candidate for the country's main opposition movement, For a Fair Kazakhstan.

Amirzhan Qosanov, a leader of the Republican People's Party and also a member of Tuyakbai's support group, told RFE/RL what happened: "About 30 minutes ago Tolen Tokhtasynov was on his way to Almaty airport, because together with other representatives of our democratic forces, he had been invited to the meeting with Condoleezza Rice in Astana. On his way, about 20 OMON [special security] officers with weapons stopped him and took him away in their car. Our lawyers tell us now that they have taken him to Almaty administrative court house. After that happened, immediately all the telephone lines and electricity were switched off in our office, that is why I am speaking to you through mobile phone now."

(international agencies, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service)

For more on this story, see Rice Hails Afghanistan's 'March Toward Democracy'