U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has urged Pakistan to continue on "a democratic path" that will lead to free and fair elections in 2007.

Ms. Rice also praised the nation's military president, Pervez Musharraf, for his courage in the war on terrorism and efforts to promote stability in neighboring Afghanistan.

She spoke in Islamabad today (Thursday) after a brief visit to the Afghan capital, Kabul, where she met with President Hamid Karzai. She gave assurances the Bush administration will continue to support Afghanistan as it prepares for parliamentary elections later this year.

President Karzai announced Thursday the elections will be delayed from May to September, due to logistical problems.

Shortly after Ms. Rice arrived in Kabul a roadside bomb blast in the southern city of Kandahar killed five and wounded 30 others.

China has released a high-profile political prisoner and allowed her to leave the country for the United States.

Muslim businesswoman and women's rights advocate Rebiya Kadeer was released on medical parole earlier today (Thursday).

The 58-year-old Ms. Kadeer is an ethnic Uigher from China's northwestern Xinjiang region. She was jailed in 1999 and later charged with violating national security for sending newspaper clippings to her husband in the United States.

The White House today (Thursday) welcomed her release and called on China to release all others who are imprisoned for peacefully expressing their political and religious beliefs.

The release comes days before U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due to arrive in China for an official visit.