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US Reviewing Aid to Kenya

The United States is reviewing its aid to Kenya, in light of the country's political turmoil. From Addis Ababa, VOA's Peter Heinlein reports America's top diplomat on African affairs is advising Kenya's political leaders to stay home from this week's African Union summit to focus on the crisis at home.

Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Jendayi Frazer says the entire U.S. aid program to Kenya's government is under review. Frazer made the comment in Addis Ababa, where she is representing the United States at the African Union summit.

But, in comments to a group of reporters, Frazer said most American assistance to Kenya goes directly to the people and will not be effected.

"We have already said there can't be business as usual in Kenya," she said. "And so, certainly we are involved in a process in which we're looking at all of our aid. But the majority of our aid to Kenya is to HIV AIDS and malaria. And, the majority of that money is distributed through NGOs"

Frazer said her recent visit to Kenya had convinced her that the Rift Valley violence was a clear case of ethnic cleansing, aimed at chasing out members of President Mwai Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe, but she rejected suggestions that the killings amount to genocide.

"The aim originally wasn't to kill, it was to cleanse - to push them out of region," she added. "Right now, you're into a cycle of retaliation, attacks and retaliation. So you're getting into a more dangerous environment, in which killing may be the object. But I don't, at this point, consider this a genocide."

Frazer told reporters she would advise Kenya's rival leaders to stay away from this week's African Union summit and to focus on the crisis at home. Kenyan officials have confirmed President Kibaki plans to attend. Opposition leader Raila Odinga's request to address the gathering has been denied.

Frazer was asked about whether Odinga should be heard. She said he would be better off spending his time working with the AU appointed negotiating team led by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Later, she said the same should apply to President Kibaki .

"The same thing that I said about the Honorable Raila Odinga, I'm saying about President Kibaki - which is that the focal point now is the negotiation and that's taking place in Kenya," she explained. "So, I'm not telling anybody about their travel arrangements. What I'm saying is that AU process for Kenya is being led by Kofi Annan in Kenya."

The three-day summit of African leaders was planned to highlight the continent's efforts to industrialize. However, that theme has been overshadowed - first by events in Sudan and Somalia and, more recently, by the convulsions in Kenya.

Frazer said Wednesday Kenya's crisis is undermining U.S. diplomatic efforts to implement the comprehensive peace agreement in Sudan, because Kenya had been the main negotiator.

The summit is expected to draw 40 or more African leaders, as well as a host of other foreign dignitaries. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will deliver Thursday's keynote address.