Clinton warns Central Asian leaders on radical Islam

By REUTERS
October 22, 2011 19:51

 
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TASHKENT - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Tajikistan and Uzbekistan on Saturday that efforts to crack down on religious freedom might backfire.

She said this could lead to increased sympathy for radical views in Central Asia, a region the United States sees as key to the future stability of Afghanistan.

Clinton met Tajik President Imomali Rakhmon and Uzbek President Islam Karimov to thank the two Central Asian states for their cooperation in the US-led war in neighboring Afghanistan.

She stressed to both that freedom of religious expression was tied to the region's future security, US officials said.

"I disagree with restrictions on religious freedom and shared those concerns," Clinton told a news conference after meeting Rakhmon in Dushanbe on the last full day of her latest overseas trip.

She said efforts to regulate religion "could push legitimate religious expression underground, and that could build up a lot of unrest and discontent."

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