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Rice meets African leaders

afrol News, 5 December - United States Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, has arrived in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to hold talks with African leaders on how to nail conflicts in Somalia, Sudan and the Great Lakes region. The trip is the second in two years to be conducted by Rice in sub-Saharan Africa.

"I am increasingly concerned about several crisis spots in Africa," Ms Rice told reporters.

She will be discussing the Great Lakes region's conflict with presidents from Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda and ministers.

Rice saw the need to develop common strategies geared towards addressing negative forces negating peace process in the region. They include a Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda and some leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda.

Congo has been threatened by the refusal of General Nkunda to disarm. He claimed that his people are taking up arms in defence against the Hutus.

Condoleeza Rice met with Sudanese officials and expressed concern about the North-South civil war which claims millions of lives. She is expected to discuss the tensions around the 2005 deal between the North and South.

She was also particular about the Sudanese government's obstacles to delay the deployment of the UN-AU hybrid forces.

"We have been sceptical all along because we have seen this movie several times before," Ms Rice said, noting that she had discussed the delay with the UN chief, Ban Ki-Moon.

She is also expected to appeal to the Somali Prime Minister, Nur Hassan Hussein, to put in place a more inclusive government. In protest against their clan's under-representation, four Somali ministers tendered their resignations 24 hours after their appointment.

Ms Rice's tight schedule also includes finding a lasting solution on the long running Ethiopia-Eritrea border dispute. She preferred the border demarcation to be sustainable for both countries to avoid the use of force. The international border commission's deadline on the demarcation expired on Friday, but the deadlock remained, raising fears of an eruption of another war between the two neighbouring countries.

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