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Friday, 28 August 2009 01:37

Clinton Begins Seven-Nation Africa Tour

By Lachlan Carmichael

WASHINGTON, July 28 (AFP) – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit seven African countries next month to "highlight" the priority President Barack Obama places on the continent, her spokesman said Monday.

Following Obama's own visit to Ghana on July 12, Clinton will travel August 5 to Kenya, the birthplace of Obama's father, before traveling to South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Liberia and Cape Verde, spokesman Ian Kelly said.

"This trip will highlight the Obama administration's commitment to making Africa a priority in US foreign policy," Kelly said in a statement.

"This will be the earliest in any US administration that both the president and the secretary of state have visited Africa."

The chief US diplomat will first attend the US-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum in Nairobi on August 5, according to the State Department.

"Clinton will discuss new approaches to development, including an emphasis on investment and broad-based economic growth" at the talks in Kenya, Kelly said.

Accompanying the chief US diplomat to Nairobi, her spokesman said, will be Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson.

Clinton, he added, will speak at the ministerial opening ceremony of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum, which gives exports from Africa's poorest countries duty-free status on the US market.

She will also take part in bilateral meetings with Kenya?s leaders and "discuss global hunger and agricultural issues at a major research institute, and engage with Kenyan citizens," Clinton's spokesman said.

She will hold talks with Sheikh Sharif Amed, the president of Somalia?s Transitional Federal Government which has been under siege from Islamist rebels.

On her other stops in South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Liberia, and Cape Verde, she "will emphasize Africa as a place of opportunity, built on an ethic of responsibility," Kelly added.

"She will underline America?s commitment to partner with governments, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and private citizens to build societies where each individual can realize their potential," he said.

Throughout her visits, "she will encourage new solutions to old challenges, harnessing the power of innovation and technology to provide a foundation for future stability, human development, and sustainable economic growth," he said.

She will seek to promote "social and economic entrepreneurship," he added.

Clinton will "encourage young African scientists, small business leaders, entrepreneurs and civic leaders who are solving real problems and establishing new models for economic success and social advances," he said.

She will push for women as "full partners in this progress," he said, underlining Clinton's argument that societies cannot develop and progress with half of the population denied their full rights.

"And she will discuss ways to foster good regional governance, partnering with regional leaders to band together to prevent conflict and violence, including gender-based violence, democratic erosions, and transnational threats," the statement said.

She will return to Washington after her visit to Cape Verde.

An earlier State Department statement said Africa is now "a source of creativity, dynamic development" that "no longer sits on the margins of US diplomacy and international trade."

Clinton "will call for even stronger links with global markets and knowledge networks," it added.

Her visit comes less than a month after Obama, the first African-American president of the United States, visited Accra, where he urged Africans to demand stronger government in order to seize control of their own future. (END/2009)

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