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Clinton Ends Africa Trip, Pledges to Stay Engaged With the Region

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrapped up her 11-day tour of Africa with a brief stop in Cape Verde. The seven-nation trip was aimed at emphasizing the Obama administration's interest in Africa, and Clinton pressed for good government and democratic reforms.

"Are we inspiring your pity so much that you say, 'I have to go and help these people?' " one student asked.

Clinton responded tartly: "I will be very honest with you -- we don't need to do any of this." Other African countries, she noted, welcomed U.S. help.

The trip's successes, according to Clinton's aides, included an easing of tense relations with South Africa, the region's strongest economy, and with Angola, a rising oil power whose leaders fought U.S.-backed rebels during the Cold War.

Clinton also held her first meeting with Somali President Sharif Ahmed, whom the U.S. government recently began supplying with arms to battle Islamist rebels.

The most emotional moment of the trip was a visit to war-wracked eastern Congo, where hundreds of thousands of people are packed into squalid camps and incidents of rape have reached epidemic levels.

Clinton met with two rape victims and choked up afterward as she promised more help for the women, including $17 million for medical treatment and security.

Clinton's trip ended with an emphasis on the positive, as illustrated by Cape Verde, about 300 miles off the west coast of Africa.

This former Portuguese colony was a one-party state from its independence in 1975 until 1990 and was once ranked among the world's poorest nations. In recent years, it has held democratic elections and opened its economy, which grew 5.7 percent on average from 1996 to 2006.

Clinton said she had started her trip with a cheat sheet for each African country she was visiting. Most had "many more problems than positives. In Cape Verde, there were so many more positives than problems."

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