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US boosts security assistance to Africa

WASHINGTON -- The United States will step up its support for the African militaries battling Islamic extremists or conducting dangerous peacekeeping missions, U.S. President Barack Obama said Wednesday.

Marking the end of a historic Washington summit with African leaders and officials representing 50 nations, Obama said boosting Africa's security would help shore up its economic achievements

Tens of billions of dollars in investments and financial support had already been announced, but Obama said the continent needs to redouble reform efforts to deepen growth and opportunity.

African countries have impressive economic strides but need to slash corruption, improve human rights, especially the rights of women, and strengthen the rule of law, he warned.

“This summit reflects the reality that, even as Africa continues to face great challenges, we're also seeing the emergence of a new, more prosperous Africa,” Obama told reporters after the talks.

“We agreed that Africa's growth depends, first and foremost, on continued reforms in Africa by Africans.”

While governance and security were important in the summit, Obama delivered to the 45 heads of state and government that came to Washington some US$33 billion in new commitments of investment and loans, much of it to targeting the continent's vastly undersupplied electric power capacity.

The new money for power plants will help deliver power to 60 million African households and businesses, he said.

In addition to that, he said the U.S. collective of non-governmental aid and development groups, InterAction, was promising US$4 billion in new funds for health care and medicines in Africa.

“Combined with the investments we announced yesterday and the agreements made today, this summit has helped to mobilize some US$37 billion for Africa's progress,” Obama said.

The long-awaited summit aimed in part at deepening economic relations and increasing trade between the two sides, and brought together hundreds of top business executives.

The United States has stood aside as China and Europe have pushed in front to take part in Africa's economic takeoff.

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From left, U.S. President Barack Obama, Cameroon President Paul Biya, Mauritania President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz and Namibia President Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba, look down the line during the family photo session at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, Wednesday, Aug 6.

(AP)

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