Rice arrives in Ethiopia for crisis talks

United States 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 (DRC), to discuss the conflict in the Great Lakes region that brings in all those countries. DRC’s President Joseph Kabila could not attend the meeting, said an official traveling 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 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 United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force. – Reuters

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