Rice Announces $16 Million in Aid for Somalia

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday the U.S. will provide $16 million in aid to Somalia and said the installation of a new government there gives Somalis a chance to move beyond two decades of chaos.

Rice announced $11.5 million in food aid for the country on the Horn of Africa, $1.5 million in nonfood assistance and $3.5 million to help refugees.

In a written statement, she said creation of a U.N.-backed government represents a "historic opportunity" for Somalis to end their recent spate of "warlordism, extreme violence and humanitarian suffering."

Rice has dispatched her top aide for African affairs, Jendayi Frazer, to the region for discussions on promoting a peacekeeping force for Somalia and to urge a political dialogue leading to national reconciliation.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Frazer held talks with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Ethiopian president Meles Zenawi.

Frazer will meet with diplomats from Europe, Africa and international organizations to coordinate future steps in Somalia.

McCormack said Frazer has no plans to visit Somalia, but he raised the possibility that she could be part of an international delegation that would travel there.