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Kenyan president due in Ethiopia for talks on Somalia, region

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Mwai Kibaki

NAIROBI, March 8 (AFP) — Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki is to visit Ethiopia this week for talks with top Ethiopian and African Union officials amid controversy over the AU-authorized deployment of regional peacekeepers to lawless Somalia, officials said Tuesday.

The three-day visit, which begins on Wednesday, also comes as tensions have risen along the Kenya-Ethiopia border where several dozen gunmen believed to be Ethiopian rebels ambushed a Kenyan security patrol on Saturday, killing one and seriously wounding four.

In talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the Kenyan president will "seek ways of ensuring safety on the expansive common border, discuss the possibility of Ethiopia using the (Kenyan) port of Mombasa and ways of guaranteeing regional stability," Kibaki’s office said.

While in Addis Ababa, Kibaki will also address the AU Commission, which last month authorized the seven-member east African Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to deploy peacekeepers to Somalia to support the relocation from exile there of the country’s transitional government.

Senior IGAD defense officials are currently planning the proposed mission whose prospects have been complicated by vehement opposition to the force from some Somali warlords.

IGAD comprises Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda and many in Somalia are opposed to the inclusion in the force of troops from Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya which they believe have ulterior motives in contributing.

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