The United States Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel has hailed Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s leadership in the East African region.
According to a statement issued by Pentagon Press Secretary George Little, Hagel “thanked President Museveni for Uganda’s leadership in the region and the country’s commitment to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).”
Uganda is the biggest contributor to the AU force of about 18,000.
The force, funded mainly by the United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU) is fighting the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group in Somalia.
He also noted that the US Congress had approved $14 million (Shs35bn) in additional support for the effort.
In a meeting held on Friday at the Pentagon, President Museveni and Secretary Hagel discussed a wide range of security issues including the recent terrorist attacks in Kenya.
Uganda bolstered security in its capital this week after al Shabab’s devastating weekend attack at the westgate mall in the Kenyan capital Nairobi that left at least 67 dead.
At Friday’s meeting, Hagel also expressed appreciation for Uganda’s campaign against the Lord’s Resistance Army and its leader, Joseph Kony. About 100 US military troops are deployed in Central Africa to advise Ugandan and other regional forces in their bid to counter the LRA.
Hagel “welcomed the progress that the Ugandan and other partner forces have achieved in reducing the threat posed by the LRA and expressed his hope that the mission would result in the elimination of the LRA threat to civilians and regional stability,” Little said.
Ugandan defense Minister Crispus Kiyonga also attended the meeting.