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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hillary Clinton arrives in Kenya

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton will meet Somali leaders in Kenya

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived in Kenya to begin an 11-day tour of the African continent.

Her trip will include South Africa, Nigeria, Liberia and Angola and she will meet Somali leaders in Kenya.

The visit, her longest overseas journey in her post to date, is part of an attempt by the US to show that Africa remains a key foreign policy priority.

Development issues - including food security, health and gender concerns - are expected to be high on the agenda.

Mrs Clinton's trip comes less than a month after US President Barack Obama, whose father was born in Kenya, travelled to Ghana.

Early trip

US officials were keen to emphasise that Mrs Clinton's trip is the earliest trip by a secretary of state to Africa of any administration.

Her trip combines visits to three African powers - Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa - to bolster ties, and three post-conflict states - Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia - to show US support.

South Africa
Democratic Republic of Congo
Cape Verde

Mrs Clinton will end her tour with a visit to US ally, Cape Verde.

Ahead of her arrival on Tuesday, the US embassy in Nairobi issued a statement scolding Kenya for its decision not to set up a local court to seek justice for the victims of the country's post-poll clashes.

At least 1,300 people died during clashes following the disputed December 2007 election.

"The US is deeply concerned by the coalition government's decision that appears to indicate it will not pursue establishment of an independent Special Tribunal to hold accountable perpetrators of post-election violence," the US government said in the statement.

Meanwhile, Somali President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed said the meeting with Mrs Clinton in Kenya would be "a golden chance for the Somali people and government".

"It signals how the American government, the Obama administration and the international community are willing to support Somalia this time," he said, referring to earlier failed peacekeeping missions to the country.

One of Mrs Clinton's first engagements will be addressing a forum of around 40 African states which enjoy trade preferences with the US on the condition they uphold free elections and market.


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