WASHINGTON - US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni have discussed the fight against Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shebab militants in Somalia following a bloody attack by the insurgents in Kenya.
In talks at the Pentagon Friday with Museveni, Hagel "praised" the efforts of Ugandan forces to combat Al-Shebab fighters in Somalia, his spokesman said. President Museveni is in the US for the 68th United Nations General Assembly and earlier met President Barrack Obama.
"Secretary Hagel thanked President Museveni for Uganda's leadership in the region and its commitment to the African Union Mission in Somalia," while noting Congress had approved $14 million in additional support for the effort, press secretary George Little said in a statement.
The Obamas meet President Museveni and First Lady Janet .
Uganda bolstered security in its capital this week after the Al-Shebab's devastating weekend attack at a mall in Nairobi that left at least 67 dead.
Uganda, Kenya and Burundi provide most of the 17,700 troops for the African Union's force in Somalia battling the Al-Shebab and are bracing for potential further attacks by the insurgents.
The Somali group's chief has said the Nairobi carnage would be followed by yet more attacks unless Kenya withdrew its forces from Somalia.
Al-Shebab lashed out at Uganda in 2010, with an attack that killed at least 76.
Hagel and Museveni before the talks. PHOTO BY AFP
At Friday's meeting, Hagel also expressed appreciation for Uganda's campaign against the Lord's Resistance Army and its leader, Joseph Kony. About 100 US military troops are deployed in Central Africa to advise Ugandan and other regional forces in their bid to counter the LRA.
Hagel "welcomed the progress that the Ugandan and other partner forces have achieved in reducing the threat posed by the LRA and expressed his hope that the mission would result in the elimination of the LRA threat to civilians and regional stability," Little said.
Infamous for mutilating its victims and abducting children for use as fighters and sex slaves, the LRA has waged an insurgency against the Ugandan government for over 25 years.