[dehai-news] (Reuters) Rice arrives in Ethiopia for Africa crisis talks


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From: Biniam Tekle (biniamt@dehai.org)
Date: Wed Dec 10 2008 - 09:05:02 EST


Rice arrives in Ethiopia for Africa crisis talks *05/12/2007 12:13*

By Sue Pleming

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in
Ethiopia on Wednesday for talks with African leaders aimed at tackling
long-running conflicts in the volatile Great Lakes region, Somalia and
Sudan.

On only her second trip in two years to sub-Saharan Africa, Rice said she
wanted to move international efforts forward to resolve those conflicts in a
string of meetings with African leaders during her 24-hour trip to Addis
Ababa.

"I am increasingly concerned about several crisis spots in Africa," she told
reporters travelling with her to the Ethiopian capital, which is also the
headquarters of the African Union.

Rice planned to meet leaders from Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda and ministers
from Democratic Republic of Congo, to discuss the conflict in the Great
Lakes region that brings in all those countries. Congo's President Joseph
Kabila could not attend the meeting, said an official travelling with Rice.

Rice's aim is to develop common strategies to deal with what Washington says
are "negative forces" including the FDLR (Democratic Liberation Forces of
Rwanda), made up of key figures in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, as well as the
Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army and renegade Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda.

In meetings with Sudanese officials, Rice said she would seek to prevent
.....*continued below*a north-south peace deal from unravelling, threatening
a return to full scale civil war.

"That is really an agreement that we cannot afford to let unravel because
everybody is focused on Darfur, but of course the North-South civil war led
to millions of deaths," Rice said.

Rice will also discuss delays in deploying a U.N.-African Union peacekeeping
force for Darfur and she reiterated U.S. frustration at hold-ups by the
Sudanese government in letting in the peacekeepers to resolve a conflict
that the United Nations estimates has claimed about 200,000 lives.

"We have been sceptical all along because we have seen this movie several
times before," she added, referring to persistent Sudanese obstacles in
allowing in the force.

The schedule for getting 26,000 peacekeepers into Darfur by year-end is
months behind and Rice said she had spoken to U.N. Secretary General Ban
ki-Moon about the delays. She was also pressing Egypt and Saudi Arabia,
which have some influence over Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

Rice will also meet Somalia's new Prime Minister, Nur Hassan Hussein and she
said she would appeal to him to be more "inclusive" in pulling together his
fragile, new government.

Four Somali cabinet members resigned on Monday, barely 24 hours after being
appointed to protest against what they said was their clan's
under-representation in the government which is faced with long-standing
clan divisions and an Islamist insurgency.

Rice will also meet officials from Ethiopia, which cooperates closely with
the United States on counter-terrorism issues.

Tensions have been mounting between Ethiopia and neighbour Eritrea over its
disputed border, with Eritrea accusing the United States of siding with
Addis Ababa over the issue.

Rice said the border needed to be drawn up in a way that was "sustainable"
for both sides. "We don't need a use of force here," she added.

(Reporting by Sue Pleming; editing by Dominic Evans)

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