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Wednesday, 11 December, 2002, 17:16 GMT
US to keep Horn military base
Djibouti President Omar Ismael Guelleh (l) and Donald Rumsfeld (c) with presidential guards (r)
But Djibouti will not support unilateral attacks on Iraq
The United States will retain its military base in Djibouti for several years, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said.

The US has set up a regional anti-terror headquarters in Djibouti, which is strategically situated near Yemen, Sudan and Somalia - all suspected of having links to al-Qaeda.

We need to be where the action is. There is no question this is an area where there is action

Donald Rumsfeld
Some 900 US troops are now based at former French Foreign Legion base Camp Lemonier and hundreds more are due to arrive in the next few days, the Associated Press reports.

However, President Omar Ismael Guelleh has said that he will only allow Djibouti to be used as a base to attack Iraq if it is sanctioned by the United Nations.

Djibouti also hosts some 2,700 troops from its former colonial power, France.

Expanding base

Following last month's attacks on Israeli targets near the Kenyan resort of Mombasa, the US warned of possible terror attacks in Djibouti, among other East African countries.

"We need to be where the action is. There is no question this is an area where there is action," Mr Rumsfeld said.

"[There are] a number of terrorists for example just across the water in Yemen and in the southern part of Saudi Arabia. These are serious problems."

His visit comes as North Korean scud missiles bound for Yemen were intercepted by US and Spanish forces in the Arabian Sea.

AFP news agency quoted US military sources as saying that Camp Lemonier is "rapidly expanding" as they were "adding to it by the day".

On Tuesday, Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki offered to let the US use its military bases as part of its war on terror.

Mr Rumsfeld did not say whether the US would take Eritrea up on its offer.

After visiting Eritrea, Ethiopia and Djibouti, Mr Rumsfeld is finishing his tour of the region in the Gulf state of Qatar.


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10 Dec 02 | Africa
06 Dec 02 | Africa
08 Nov 02 | Africa
23 Nov 02 | Country profiles
23 Nov 02 | Africa
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