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Top Pentagon official touts US-Uganda security ties

Ashton B. Carter (L), Deputy Secretary of Defense, speaks during a hearing on February 12, 2013, in Washington, DC
Ashton B. Carter (L), Deputy Secretary of Defense, speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill, on February 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Pentagon's number-two ranking official held talks Tuesday in Uganda to discuss US military support for the fight agains

The Pentagon's number-two ranking official held talks Tuesday in Uganda to discuss US military support for the fight against Lord's Resistance Army forces, officials said.

In meetings with Foreign Minister Henry Okello and the Chief of Defence Forces Edward Katumba Wamala, US Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter discussed "ending the threat to civilians and to regional stability posed by Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army," the Pentagon said in a statement.

His trip to Kampala makes him the highest ranking Pentagon official ever to pay a visit to Uganda, spokesman George Little said.

Since 2011, the United States has deployed about 100 special forces troops to Central Africa to advise local forces fighting the LRA and its leader, Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.

The LRA is notorious for its brutal attacks and has been held responsible for rape, murder and mutiliation of civilians.

Carter also discussed with his counterparts security "challenges" in Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia, Little said.

The deputy defense secretary visited with US forces advising the anti-LRA effort as well as a separate US contingent training Ugandan forces who will take part in an African Union mission in Somalia, he said.

Washington in recent years has pursued military and intelligence ties with governments in Africa to counter Islamist militants in Somalia, operating drones from a base in Ethiopia, where Carter is due to pay a visit later this week.

President Barack Obama has called on countries bordering Democratic Republic of Congo, including Uganda, to stop supporting M23 rebels.

Both Uganda and Rwanda have been accused of backing the M23, which has been accused of atrocities.

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