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U.S. diplomats to attend Meles funeral

  |   Aug. 31, 2012 at 12:45 PM
WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice leads the delegation to Ethiopia to attend the funeral for Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the White House said.

Rice leads a delegation that includes U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Booth, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson and Senior Director at the National Security Council Gayle Smith for the state funeral Sunday.

Hailemariam Desalegn is serving as acting prime minister following the death of the long-time prime minister last week. A former rebel fighter, Meles took power in 1991 after toppling the dictatorship of Mengistu Haile Mariam. He was credited with steering the country toward a role as regional powerbroker.

The Ethiopian Parliament will endorse the acting prime minister following the state funeral. Ethiopian Ambassador to Kenya Ahmed Roble was quoted by The Daily Nation newspaper in Nairobi as saying the country's transition was moving forward smoothly.

"The policies of the ruling party and the government led by the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi will continue under the new leadership," the ambassador said.

The White House had called on the acting prime minister "to use his leadership to enhance the Ethiopian government's support for development, democracy, human rights and regional security."

The former deputy prime minister serves in an interim capacity until 2015 elections.

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Topics: Meles Zenawi
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