Clinton in I.Coast on first visit since post-poll crisis

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1/16/2012 6:50:01 PM -

ABIDJAN (AFP) - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Ivory Coast Monday on her first visit there since a deadly crisis broke out following disputed 2010 polls.

"It will be the first visit of a secretary of state in Cote d'Ivoire since 1986," a high-ranking US official said as Clinton flew in from Liberia for the second leg of a whirlwind west African tour.

The visit "underscores our commitment to strengthening democratic institutions" in Cote d'Ivoire," the official said.

Clinton is scheduled to meet with Ivory Coast's new President Alassane Ouattara on Tuesday.

Former strongman Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to hand over the reins to his long-time opponent Ouattara after November 2010 polls plunged the world's top cocoa-grower into a deadly crisis which the United Nations said claimed around 3,000 lives.

The visit "underscores our commitment to strengthening democratic institutions" in Cote d'Ivoire," the US official added.

On a whirlwind four-country trip of West Africa, Clinton -- who attended the inauguration of Nobel laureate and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for a second term -- is due to travel on to Togo and Cape Verde.

In Togo, Clinton, the first US secretary of state to visit that country, will meet President Faure Gnassingbe "to demonstrate US support for Togo's democratic progress and economic reforms," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

In Cape Verde, Clinton will meet Prime Minister Jose Maria Neves to discuss cooperation on regional issues like counter-narcotics, good governance, sound economic policies," Nuland said.

By: J.J. Rawlings

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