Washington – The United States will help African nations set up a rapid response force to support United Nations and African Union peacekeeping missions, President Barack Obama said Wednesday.
Obama, closing a summit with 50 African countries in Washington, said the force could be dispatched rapidly in support of UN-backed missions on the continent.
“We will join with six countries that have demonstrated a track record as peacekeepers,” Obama told a news conference.
“We’re going to invite countries beyond Africa to join us in supporting this effort because the entire world has a stake in the success of peacekeeping in Africa,” he said.
Obama said that the six countries involved in the effort would be Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda.
A White House statement on the pledge said the United States will spend $110 million per year for three to five years to support the creation of the new force.
“African partner nations will commit to maintaining forces and equipment ready to rapidly deploy and state their intent to deploy as part of UN or AU missions,” it said.
“The United States is not the only member of the international community that has a stake in this endeavor, so we will reach out to international partners,” it added.
“We are also prepared to provide support, including training for headquarters staff and key enabler functions, such as engineers.”
Ethiopia and Rwanda have both taken an active interest in conflicts in their neighborhoods, although the United States has criticized both countries on human rights grounds.
Obama did not specify how the peacekeeping force would relate to existing missions of the African Union.
The regional bloc has deployed the 22,000-strong AMISOM force to Somalia on a UN-authorized mission to bring stability to chaotic Somalia.
Obama also said that the United States was also working with Africans to develop an “early warning and response network” to identify emerging crises