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Rice praises Pak progress against extremism

Written by: Staff

Washington, June 19: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who praised the progress Pakistan has made in combating extremism over the past six years, called for free and fair parliamentary elections as a step toward the restoration of democracy.

"I think we have to recognise that Pakistan has come a very long way since 2001 in its commitment to try and root out extremism, to try to make reforms -- educational reforms, reforms on concerns of women and the like," she told reporters yesterday.

"There is an important set of events coming up when there will be elections in Pakistan. And the importance of those elections being free and fair as a foundation for a more democratic Pakistan, I think, is very clear." She, however said, "we've been concerned about the situation in Pakistan. And any time there is violence, we are concerned about it.

I'm looking forward to my conversations with the Foreign Minister [of that country].

Ms rice said Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte was just in Pakistan. "We have a very intensive engagement with the Pakistani officials at this important time,"


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