Kerry to focus on fighting terrorism in trips to Kenya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 (UPI) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Kenya, Nigeria and Saudia Arabia to meet with leaders in the nations, including talks on countering terrorism.

Kerry first meets with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday in Nairobi “to discuss regional security issues and counterterrorism cooperation, as well as bilateral issues,” according to a release from the U.S. Department of State. This includes unrest in neighboring South Sudan and security in Somalia,

Kerry will also meet with Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed and other regional foreign ministers to discuss issues.

Kerry then will be in Sokoto, and Abuja, Nigeria, on Tuesday and Wednesday. He will meet with President Muhammadu Buhari to discuss “counterterrorism efforts, the Nigerian economy, the fight against corruption, and human rights issues,” according to the release.

Kerry then travels to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to meet with senior Saudi leaders, his counterparts from the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the United Kingdom and the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen.

“His discussion will focus on the ongoing conflict in Yemen and efforts to restore peace and stability,” the release said. “Additionally, the leaders will discuss the region’s most pressing challenges, including Syria and our global effort to counter Da’esh and violent extremism.”

Ahead of the trip, Human Rights Watch wrote a letter to the secretary of state.

“Throughout your trip in all three countries, we urge you to be clear that the United States expects its partners to protect the equal rights of all, including marginalized communities; to ensure security forces protect instead of prey on civilians; and to commit to, as President [Barack] Obama said on his 2015 trip to Kenya, ‘uphold the rule of law, and respect … human rights, and … treat everybody who’s peaceful and law-abiding fairly and equally,” the letter said. “We urge you to reemphasize these sentiments clearly, both in your private meetings and in public commentary.”

Sarah Margon, Washington director at Human Rights Watch, said it is an important trip. “The Obama administration will have few remaining opportunities to express its human rights concerns directly to leaders in the region,” Margon said in a release. “It shouldn’t waste this one.”

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