DAKAR — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton begins the East Africa leg of her 10-day tour with visits to South Sudan and Uganda Friday.
Questions of regional security are likely to dominate the agenda.
In Uganda, the U.S. has provided military advisors to assist in battling the Lord’s Resistance Army - which has been a destabilizing force in central Africa for more than two decades.
Kicking off her Africa trip in Dakar Wednesday, Clinton said the United States wants to build mutually beneficial partnerships with African countries that reinforce security, as well as democracy.
"Some people back home say we shouldn’t bother. That we should just focus on America’s immediate economic or security interests and not worry so much about the slow, hard work of building democracy elsewhere," Clinton said. "But I think that is short-sighted. It's also in our interest to have strong and stable partners in the world. And democracies are by far the strongest and most stable partners. So this isn’t altruism. This is a strategic commitment to shared prosperity, to common security."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets Kofi Annan and his wife Nane Lagergren at the funeral of Ghana President John Atta Mills, in Accra, Ghana, August 10, 2012.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, meets with Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama, at his residence in Accra, Ghana, August 9, 2012.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a clinic at Delft township on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa, August 8, 2012.
South Africa's Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, left, and Hillary Clinton visit the Delft South Clinic in Delft South, a suburb of Cape Town, South Africa, August 8, 2012.
Hillary Clinton meets with former South Africa President Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel at his home in Qunu, South Africa, August 6, 2012.
Hillary Clinton and South Africa's Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane see a rare snow flurry as they leave business meetings in Pretoria, South Africa, August 7, 2012.
Hillary Clinton walks out with African Union Chair-Designate Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma after their meeting at Brynterion Estate in Pretoria, South Africa, August 7, 2012.
Hillary Clinton dances with Emille Phiri, chair of the Lumbadzi Milk Bulking Group, Lilongwe, Malawi, August 5, 2012.
Hillary Clinton meets with Malawi's President Joyce Banda at the State House in Lilongwe, Malawi, August 5, 2012.
Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki, with Hillary Clinton (R) and his vice president Kalonzo Musyoka (L), leaves after a meeting at State House in Nairobi August 4, 2012.
Hillary Clinton is met by Uganda's Foreign Affairs Minister Okello Oryem upon arrival at Entebbe International Airport, August 3, 2012.
Hillary Clinton shakes hands with Bishop Elias Taban in Juba August 3, 2012.
Hillary Clinton meets with South Sudan President Salva Kiir, August 3, 2012, at the Presidential Office Building in Juba.
Hillary Clinton, accompanied by President Macky Sall, speaks at the Presidential Palace in Dakar, August 1, 2012.
Hillary Clinton shakes hands with staff from the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, August 1, 2012.
The shadow of Hillary Clinton on a Senegalese flag before she spoke at the University of Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, Senegal, August 1, 2012.
The secretary of state will meet with Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni to discuss Uganda's role as a "key U.S. partner in promoting regional security," as well as to "encourage strengthening of democratic institutions and human rights."
In South Sudan, Clinton will meet with President Salva Kiir to "reaffirm U.S. support" for the world's newest country and push for "progress in negotiations on issues related to security, oil and citizenship" with Sudan. The two countries must reach a peace deal this week or face United Nations sanctions.
South Sudan officially broke off from Sudan last July. However, disputes between the two countries, in particular over shared oil revenues and border demarcation, have caused tensions, and the risk of renewed conflict, to climb.
Map of Secretary Clinton's stops in Africa
View Clinton's Africa trip in a larger map