U.S. to Train Africans for Sierra Leone

“This is not a sudden change,” an administration official told ABCNEWS today. “It’s been our plan all along to send troops to train. But the level of commitment had not fully been decided, because that is a deliberative process.”

Officials: Not a U.N. Snub Nor does the decision to train African troops — rather than U.N. peacekeepers from all over the world — mean the United States has become disillusioned with U.N. peacekeeping, officials said.

“No, I think the U.S. commitment to U.N. peacekeeping is unmistakable and undeniable,” Lockhart said. But he stressed that Clinton, on a recent trip to Africa, “talked about the importance of a rapid response force in the region, of using regional troops. And we think this is an example of a place where this approach works best.”

Clinton will visit Nigeria Aug. 25-27.

ABCNEWS’ John McWethy, Rebecca Cooper and Barbara Starr in Washington contributed to this report.

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