US President George W. Bush said in Washington on Thursday he will send Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Kenya to seek an end to the violence in the East African country.
Bush will visit Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia from Feb. 15-21 for talks with leaders of these countries on economic development and fighting against HIV/AIDS and other diseases, according to a statement by the White House. Rice will accompany Bush in the African tour.
Bush said at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art that during the trip, he will direct Rice to go to Kenya and support the work of former UN chief Kofi Annan who is seeking a political solution between Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga.
The violence between supporters of the Kenyan government and opposition parties have left more than 1,000 people dead and some 600,000 displaced since December.
Bush said Rice will deliver a message directly to Kenya's leaders and people: "There must be an immediate halt to violence, there must be justice for the victims of abuse and there must be a full return to democracy."
A senior State Department official said Rice and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer will fly in Nairobi, Kenya on Monday to meet Kibaki, Odinga and civic leaders.
The forthcoming African tour by Bush will be the second of its kind since he became US president in January 2001. Bush's last visit to African continent took place in July 2003 which witnessed his visit to Senegal, South Africa, Botswana, Uganda and Nigeria.
(Xinhua News Agency February 15, 2008)