Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will highlight U.S.-African efforts to combat violent extremism and promote democracy building and development in a six-nation trip that will begin Tuesday.
Clinton will meet with leaders in Senegal, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi and South Africa in the 10-day trip, during which she will push President Barack Obama's latest Presidential Policy Directive on sub-Saharan Africa.
The PPD advances four strategic objectives for U.S. engagement in Africa, including strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, trade, and investment, advancing peace and security and promoting opportunity and development.
Clinton will highlight these four goals in the six nations while specifically focusing on counterterrorism efforts and investment of U.S. businesses in Africa.
In a speech this week during a trip to North Africa and the Middle East, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta shined a spotlight on the threat of African and Middle Eastern Al Qaeda syndicates recently acknowledged as the strongest, most violent and unpredictable arm of the terror network, including its leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"We continue to be concerned about al-Qaeda's presence in Yemen, Somalia and North Africa," Panetta stated during his stop in Tunisia, referring to African Al-Qaeda branch Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). "We strongly urge countries like Tunisia to develop counter-terrorism operations that can yield results."
"And there are a number of efforts that we can assist them with to develop the kind of operations, the kind of intelligence that would help them effectively deal with that threat," Panetta added, saying Tunisia has signaled their interest in working more with the U.S. on this threat.
The PPD also emphasizes American investment in Africa. While pundits agree the investment is seen as a way to ensure U.S. influence on the continent isn't overridden by that of China, the White House makes no mention of the East Asian giant in its official literature on the directive.
"We will work to expand sub-Saharan Africa's capacity to access and benefit from global markets, promote regional integration, and strengthen economic governance," a White House fact sheet states.
"U.S. companies can and should play a role in this process, bringing capital, technology, and American resourcefulness to support Africa's continued development, as well as the creation of jobs in America."
Clinton will discuss AQIM in Somalia while in Uganda and Kenya, the State Department noted, while democracy building and political reform will be highlighted in Senegal and Malawi.
In South Africa, where Clinton is making her first trip since she took her post in 2008, she will meet with ex-President Nelson Mandela and will discuss larger regional issues and challenges.
by RTT Staff Writer
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