US, AU pledge greater ties
Washington - The United States and African Union on Thursday pledged to step up cooperation, saying that they shared interests in promoting democracy and development.
An African Union delegation is on a three-day visit to Washington for first-of-their-kind talks with the United States on issues including fighting hunger and climate change and boosting peacekeeping operations.
A joint statement said that the two sides hoped to hold the talks on an annual basis, rotating between Washington and the African Union's headquarters of Addis Ababa.
The Washington talks looked at "strengthening our mutual interests and promoting our common values in a new strategic partnership," the statement said.
Echoing earlier remarks by US officials, the statement said that Washington supported the African Union's "critical role in promoting democracy and good governance throughout Africa”.
The United States hailed the regional bloc's "courageous" peacekeeping efforts in troubled Somalia, along with its "principled stands" against power grabs in Guinea, Madagascar, Mauritania and Niger.
In turn, the African Union Commission "welcomes the new US approach of engagement with the rest of the world and appreciates its major contributions to Africa's developments efforts", the statement said.
Since it was founded in 2002, the African Union has gradually been assuming a greater role in the continent's security including through peacekeeping in Somalia and Sudan's Darfur region.
The bloc also led an invasion in 2008 to stop a rebellion on Anjouan island of the Comoros.
The African Union delegation, led by Commission Chair Jean Ping, met a range of officials in Washington including Attorney General Eric Holder and Trade Representative Ron Kirk.