Kerry to travel to Africa, the Gulf on counterterrorism tour
Washington (AFP): US Secretary of State John Kerry will travel next week to Kenya, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia on a three-nation tour focused on counterterrorism, the State Department said Thursday.
The top US diplomat arrives in Nairobi on Monday for talks with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on “regional security issues and counterterrorism cooperation, as well as bilateral issues,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said.
He is also scheduled to speak with several of his East African counterparts on the conflicts in South Sudan and Somalia, notably the fight against the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shabaab militants.
On Tuesday, Kerry arrives in Nigeria where he will meet with President Muhammadu Buhari to discuss “counterterrorism efforts, the Nigerian economy, the fight against corruption, and human rights issues.”
Washington is a key ally of Abuja in the fight against Boko Haram rebels, but has regularly challenged the country and its armed forces on their civilian rights record during crackdowns against the Islamist militants.
Kerry will also travel to Sokoto in northern Nigeria to deliver a speech on “the importance of resilient communities and religious tolerance in countering violent extremism.”
On Wednesday Kerry heads to Saudi Arabia, where he will visit Jeddah to meet with his counterparts from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council as well as British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson and UN special envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.
While in Saudi Arabia, Kerry will focus on the conflict in Yemen as well as the war in Syria and the fight against the Islamic State group, the State Department said.