Associated France Press (AFP) 11/10/2005
Rice starts four-nation Central Asian tour
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Kyrgyzstan, the first stop in a three-day tour of Central Asia during which she will seek to bolster American influence in a strategic region where Russia and China are elbowing hard for position.
In the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, Rice is to take part in a roundtable discussion on demcracy, reforms and the constitution before meeting with Prime Minister Felix Kulov and then with President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.
After leaving Bishkek, Rice was due to visit Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan this week. She also plans to make a side trip to Pakistan following the devastating earthquake there on Saturday.
Rice's tour is aimed at firming up support for the US war on terror while promoting democratic reform and economic development as the antidote to Islamic extremism.