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13 Oct, 2007 11:59

Rice vows support for Russian human rights activists

On the last day of her official visit to Moscow, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Russian human rights activists and encouraged them to set up institutions of democracy. But Dr Rice avoided repeating U.S. claims of an alleged roll-back of

The meeting came as Rice and U.S. Secretary of  Defense, Robert Gates, were concluding a two-day trip to the Russian capital. 

During discussions with human rights groups. Dr Rice shared her views of civil society. She also said Washington will help the human rights leaders in building institutions that support rights and freedoms.

“This is an extremely important time in Russia’s development, and we talked before about how the democratic process can only be sustained and individual rights can only be protected by the building of institutions. I am quite confident that your goal is to build institutions that are indigenous to Russia, but that are also respectful of what we all know to be universal values,” Dr. Rice said.

Aleksandr Brod, the head of a Moscow human rights group who was at the meeting, said human rights was an issue that was relevant in both Russia and the U.S.

“While discussing the human rights situation, we cannot posture as offended, neither can America take up a posture of a tutor. This issue is polemical and we can see that there are problems in the United States, too. And I think if there were American human rights activists sitting in front of Dr. Rice, they would not be paying compliments to her. We can see protests against the war in Iraq, suppression of human rights while fighting against terror, and also eavesdropping and problems of migration that America has been facing for a long time and that are now looking quite painfully for a solution,” Mr Brod noted.

Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates also met with Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov on Saturday. They discussed trade and economic ties between the two countries, and Russia's progress in joining the World Trade Organisation.