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US approves of Kenyan rival meeting

Latest update : 2008-01-26

A meeting between President Mwai Kibaki and the opposition leader who accuses him of stealing Kenya's election is an "important first step" to defusing a violent crisis, a US official said Friday.


  
A meeting between President Mwai Kibaki and the opposition leader who accuses him of stealing Kenya's election is an "important first step" to defusing a violent crisis, a US official said Friday.
  
The United States welcomes Thursday's meeting between Kibaki and Raila Odinga, which was facilitated by African Union envoy and former UN chief Kofi Annan, State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said in a statement.
  
"The meeting was an important first step to launch a process of dialogue on a political solution to the elections crisis," he said.
  
Kibaki and Odinga stood together with Annan for the first time since the December 27 vote and called for peace. The talks followed weeks of violence in which close to 800 people died and a quarter of a million were displaced.
  
Annan described the meeting, after which Kibaki and Odinga smiled and shook hands before live television, as "a very encouraging development."
  
Casey appealed to the two men to follow up.
  
"We urge these two men to maintain momentum and to demonstrate their leadership by moving quickly to address all the outstanding issues in a spirit of compromise, inclusiveness, and patriotism," the spokesman added.
  
"We lend our voice to the calls coming from Kenyans across the ethnic, political, and social spectrum to end violence that has had such a devastating impact," the statement said.
  
"As a steadfast partner and friend of Kenya, the United States will continue to support the efforts underway to address underlying grievances so that all Kenyans can enjoy lasting peace, justice, and prosperity," it added.
  
With backing from its allies, Kenya will "seize the opportunity resulting from this crisis in order to strengthen democratic institutions" for the benefit of everyone, he said.
  

Date created : 2008-01-26

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