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ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is venturing into Turkmenistan, dangling the opportunity of greater U.S. investment, expanded security cooperation and a strategic counterweight to nearby Russia and China if the government improves its human rights record.
Kerry arrived after making a similar offer in Tajikistan, which followed the script he used in weekend pitches in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Speaking Monday at Kazakhstan's Nazarbayev University, he addressed the challenge facing Central Asia's governments, particularly as they respond to the threat of expanded Islamic State activity.
He said fears about extremist organizations don't give authorities "a license to use violence indiscriminately." Kerry's audience included the Kazakh prime minister, senators, foreign diplomats and students.