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US Signs Long-Term Lease for Military Base in Djibouti

The United States and Djibouti have signed a new 10-year lease on a U.S. military base in the Horn of Africa nation that the White House calls a critical part in fighting terrorism.

President Barack Obama announced the deal Monday at a White House meeting with Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh.

Mr. Obama called the base a critical facility and extraordinarily important to the U.S. role in the Horn of Africa. He said he is grateful to President Guelleh for agreeing to a long-term lease.

Mr. Guelleh thanked Mr. Obama for what he called a vision for the development of Africa, including heath care, education, and food securioty in Djibouti.

But President Obama said human trafficking in Djibouti remains a concern. He said the U.S. will engage with Djibouti on human rights issues. A Freedom House report rates Djibouti as "not free."

The White House says both presidents talked about their committment to keep al-Qaida and the Somali-based Islamist terrorist group al-Shebab from gaining ground.

Djiboutian solders are part of the African Union force that has had some success against al-Shebab in Somalia.

Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti houses about 4,000 U.S. soldiers and other military personnel. The United States regards it as a major staging area for attacks against terrorists in Yemen and Somalia. It is the only permanent U.S. military base in Africa.

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