Wednesday, 4th March 2015

US to help Africa build rapid-response force: Obama

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The United States will help set up a rapid response force in Africa in a new peacekeeping partnership with the continent, US President Barack Obama said on Wednesday.

The goal of the partnership is to quickly deploy African peacekeepers in support of UN or African Union missions, Obama said in a press conference marking the end of the three-day US-Africa Leaders Summit.

The new partnership will include a new investment of 110 million US dollars per year over the next 3 to 5 years to help African militaries build the capacity to rapidly deploy peacekeepers in response to emerging conflict, according to a White House statement.

"We'll join with six countries that in recent years have demonstrated a track record as peacekeepers -- Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda," Obama noted.

The United States will also invite countries beyond Africa to join the effort, because "the entire world has a stake in the success of peacekeeping in Africa," Obama said.

The president also pledged to provide additional equipment to African peacekeepers in Somalia and the Central African Republic, and support the African Union's efforts to strengthen its peacekeeping institutions.

Emphasizing that the United States has no desire to create "a big footprint" inside of Africa, Obama said a lot of the initiatives that the US put forward were designed to partner with countries in dealing with problems within their own borders or regionally.

Obama also addressed crises in other parts of the world at the news conference.

Russian economy had "ground to a halt" as a result of sanctions levied by the US and European countries, said the president, adding that if Russia invades eastern Ukraine, it would pose "a different set of questions" for the United States.

On the conflict in Gaza, Obama said the goal of the United States is to make sure that the ceasefire holds, and that Gaza can begin the process of rebuilding.

Obama also expressed concern over civilians killed in the conflict and reiterated US support to Israel to defense itself from rocket attacks by Hamas.

"I have no sympathy for Hamas. I have great sympathy for ordinary people who are struggling within Gaza," Obama said.

About 50 African leaders have joined in the US-Africa summit which started Monday. The major focus of the summit is to boost bilateral trade and investment, strengthen security partnerships and support a new generation of African leaders. WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 (Xinhua)



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