WASHINGTON, April 21 (UPI) -- The African Union and the United States opened talks Wednesday to detail the two sides' relationship and cooperation efforts.
Representatives of the African Union, an intergovernmental organization of 53 African countries, traveled to Washington to meet with a number of members of the Obama administration.
"This administration is deeply committed to Africa and to fostering the development of institutions like the African Union," said U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Jacob Lew. "We believe the pursuit of peace and prosperity in Africa is very directly in the interest of the United States and the American people."
During the three-day visit, the AU officials are to meet with senior staff members in the departments of State, Defense, Treasury and Commerce along with officials from the CIA, National Security Council, Trade Representative's office as well as with Cabinet members such as Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss ways to broaden the United States' engagement in Africa.
"We are convinced that Africa and the U.S. can easily build and design in this interconnected world a 21st -century relationship on the basis of the principles of shared values, mutual respect, confidence and commitment and partnership," said AU Chairman Jean Ping.
The United States and African Union already have been working on peace and security on Africa. The United States provided $170 million to the African Union's peacekeeping mission in Somalia and is relying on the union to support a $63 billion global health initiative on the continent.
The African Union was created in 2002 to address the African countries' common problems of conflict, poverty, lack of industrialization and to create a unified voice.