Secretary of State John Kerry arrives to board his plane at Vienna International Airport, Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool via AP)
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Central Asia Saturday for a five-day, five-nation tour of the "Stans," to reassure them they will not be forgotten.Concern is mounting in the region that, as the U.S. operation in Afghanistan finally draws towards a close, Washington will lose interest in its landlocked northern neighbors. Now the extremist group ISIS is recruiting fighters from the region -- including a U.S.-trained special police chief -- raising the specter of extremist violence.Several governments in Central Asia have responded to the threat, real or imagined, of radicalism with even tougher measures to control Muslim religious expression.U.S. officials said Kerry intends to take up the issue of rights at each of his stops in the region, but also to reassure his hosts of ongoing U.S. security cooperation.Kerry's visit will also serve to remind Washington's friends in Central Asia that the United States supports their sovereignty at a time when President Vladimir Putin's Russia is asserting itself in another neighbor, Ukraine.
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