Kenya 'perfect location' for summit: US diplomat

A senior US State Department official praised Kenya's efforts to combat terrorism both at home and in Somalia.

"Fighting terrorism is not easy," said Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield. "The Kenyans have done the absolute best they can."

Speaking via teleconference from the African Union summit in Johannesburg, Ms Thomas-Greenfield added, "Kenya has done an extraordinary job in assisting us as a troop contributor to Amisom in Somalia and at same time trying to fight terrorism within their borders."

President Obama's planned visit to Kenya next month is intended to "highlight the relationship we have with the government of Kenya," she said.

The top US diplomat for Africa described Kenya as "the perfect location" for next month's Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which Mr Obama is scheduled to attend.

Ms Thomas-Greenfield noted that the summit is expected to draw 1000 entrepreneurs "to promote development and to promote prosperity on the continent of Africa".

"We think Kenya is the perfect location for that as they have indicated their desire to increase the amount of investments from the US as well as the world," the assistant secretary of state said.

WILL NOT DAMAGE RELATIONS

Asked about the South African government's acquiescence to Sudan President Omar al-Bashir's departure earlier from the country earlier on Monday, the assistant secretary of state said failure to arrest the Sudanese leader will not damage Washington's relations with Pretoria.

The US on Sunday had said it is "deeply concerned" about Mr Bashir's trip to South Africa. A State Department spokesman noted then that an arrest warrant is in effect for the Sudanese president who has been charged at the International Criminal Court with genocide and crimes against humanity.

"In light of the atrocities in Darfur," said spokesman John Kirby, "we call on the government of South Africa to support the international community's efforts to provide justice for the victims of these heinous crimes."

But Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield made clear that South Africa's failure to arrest Mr Bashir will not result in any diplomatic rebuke by the United States.

"This is not going to be an issue that is going to change the nature of our relationship," she said, adding, "We certainly have expressed our views on this issue."

Sent by Atta East African Director Mohanjeet Brar