U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is headed to Ethiopia for security talks with regional officials and to attend a 50th anniversary celebration for the African Union.
Kerry's three-day visit begins Friday in Addis Ababa, where the State Department says he will meet with senior Ethiopian officials to discuss "bilateral issues."
On Saturday, he will join African leaders and other foreign dignitaries at an AU summit that will celebrate 50 years of the pan-African organization, which used to be referred to as the Organization of African Unity.
Kerry's visit is expected to include talks on efforts to battle Islamist extremists in countries such as Mali and northern Nigeria.
During recent talks with his Nigerian counterpart, Kerry reaffirmed U.S. support for Nigeria's fight against Boko Haram militants in the north, where a state of emergency has been declared.
In Mali, French troops are beginning to wrap up an offensive against Islamist fighters who had seized control of the north. Analysts say the U.S. is looking to help provide counter-insurgency training to regional forces who are taking over.
Kerry also will likely discuss violence along the fragile and undecided border of Sudan and South Sudan, where human rights groups have warned that outlawed militant groups are taking advantage of the instability.