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Clinton focuses on security in East Africa

03 August 2012, 08:43

 Kampala - Preserving a fragile peace between Sudan and South Sudan, stepping up the hunt for Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony and boosting African counter-terrorism efforts in Somalia will top US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's agenda in two days of talks.

After arriving in Uganda from Senegal on Thursday on the second stop of a seven-nation tour of Africa, Clinton will make a brief visit on Friday to Juba, capital of South Sudan, the world's newest country, to congratulate the nation on its first anniversary.

She also will urge officials in South Sudan to resolve festering differences with Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. Disputes over oil and territory threaten to crater a landmark 2005 peace deal that ended what was then Africa's longest-running civil war.

The two sides faced an 8 August deadline set by the UN Security Council to reach agreement on issues left outstanding from the peace agreement or face possible sanctions, although council president Gerard Araud said the council had reached a consensus that "sanctions are not necessary, but are needed to keep up pressure" on both countries to make progress on their various issues.

The disputes, particularly over oil revenue, have led to severe economic problems in both Sudan and South Sudan, but the south, which had its first anniversary last month, is in a more precarious situation as it is more heavily dependent on outside assistance.

A senior US official speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the matter publicly said she would express concern about a "lack of movement" in resolving the situation but also reaffirm America's strong support for South Sudan. The US was instrumental in helping to negotiate the 2005 peace deal and the official said Washington is "heavily invested" in its success.

After several hours in Juba, Clinton will return to Kampala, where Ugandan and international health workers are dealing with an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Uganda's remote west that has killed 16 people and infected 20 more.

In talks with Ugandan officials, Clinton will press a renewed effort to hunt down Kony's brutal Lord's Resistance Army in the jungles of central Africa. The LRA is notorious for forcibly recruiting children who then become soldiers or wives for commanders and Kony was the first suspect indicted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes and crimes against humanity charges.

The US has sent about 100 special forces advisers to help. But the head of a planned African Union force to hunt Kony has said he can't start his task because he doesn't have troops, equipment or the necessary funding.

- AP


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