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Officials: Clinton Presses Human Rights In Meeting With Uzbekistan Ruler Karimov

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Uzbek president Islam Karimov in Tashkent.
U.S. officials say Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged greater respect for human rights during a meeting with Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov, whose regime has been accused of serious rights abuses.

Clinton, who met with Karimov on October 22 in Tashkent, is the highest-ranking American official to visit Uzbekistan since the U.S. in September lifted seven-year-old restrictions on U.S. assistance, including military assistance, to Uzbekistan.

The restrictions had been imposed over rights abuses. News agencies quote a U.S. official as saying that in the meeting with Clinton, Karimov pledged to make progress on liberalization and democratic reforms, saying he wants such progress to be seen as a "legacy" of his rule.

Karimov has ruled Uzbekistan for more than 20 years. Officials said Clinton also thanked Karimov for Uzbekistan's assistance in supporting U.S. troops involved in the conflict in Afghanistan.

Clinton arrived in Uzbekistan following a visit to Tajikistan, where she said she disagreed with curbs on religious freedom, saying that such restrictions could help promote Islamic extremism by pushing legitimate religious expression underground.

compiled from agency reports

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