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US, 11 African Countries Open Regional Terror, Disaster Response Hub

The United States and 11 African countries Monday opened in Nairobi a regional center to coordinate response to terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

The new center is the headquarters for "Golden Spear," a United States-led operation to help east African countries deal more effectively with natural disasters and terrorist attacks.

Operation "Golden Spear" coordinates disaster relief among the 11 participating African nations and the United States Central Command, which has a large presence in Djibouti.

Among the government officials attending the opening ceremony was Kenyan Vice President Moody Awori, who read a speech by President Mwai Kibaki. He said programs like "Golden Spear" were necessary to give the region a safety net.

"We are all aware of the recent Tsunami, whose impact exceeded capacities of the local institutions. We are equally aware of the terrorist calamities that hit America, Kenya, Tanzania and, recently, Britain and Egypt," said. Mr. Awori. "These disasters overstretched the national efforts and capabilities requiring a pool of resources from elsewhere."

The 11 "Golden Spear" nations are Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tanzania and Uganda.

The U.S.-backed operation, launched five years ago, enables "Golden Spear" countries to share information on supplies of food and medicine, and train rescue authorities to deal with large-scale emergencies.