Obama rules out sending troops to Somalia

Addis Ababa, July 28 (IANS/EFE) US President Barack Obama said that his government would not consider sending troops to Somalia, as he sees regional allies Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda as being highly qualified to lead an anti-terrorism operation on the ground.

“I think there’s been complementarity in the work that we’ve done together. So we don’t need to send our own Marines, for example, in to do the fighting,” Obama said on Monday during a joint press conference with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn here.

“The Ethiopians are tough fighters. And the Kenyans and Ugandans have been serious about putting troops on the ground, at significant sacrifice, because they recognise the importance of stabilising the region.”

The relationship between the US and these countries has been fruitful, Obama described, adding that cooperation has reduced the activities of Somali jihadist group Al Shabaab, but that the threat remains, as evidenced by ongoing attacks such as that on Sunday when at least 10 people were killed in Mogadishu.

“Our security cooperation is pushing back against violent extremism,” Obama said, while thanking the Ethiopian government for “its contribution to the African Union Mission in Somalia”, or AMISOM, as it contributes more troops “to UN peacekeeping efforts” than any other country in Africa.

The visit to Ethiopia is the second and final leg of Obama’s official visit to Africa, which began with a visit to Kenya, the land where his father was born.

Obama is scheduled to deliver a speech on Tuesday before the African Union, to become the first US president to speak before the regional institution.

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