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What Hillary Clinton seeks to achieve in Africa

One aim: to bolster relations with resource-rich countries where China has been aggressively extending its presence.

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US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (l.) is welcomed by Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula and American ambassador to Kenya, Michael Rannerger (r.) at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, Kenya, on Tuesday.

Sayyid Azim/AP

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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton begins a seven-country tour of sub-Saharan Africa Wednesday designed to underscore the Obama administration's priority on improving the continent's stability and development.

While Secretary Clinton's stated objective is to address issues ranging from regional economic development and education to democratic governance and gender-based violence, another aim will be to bolster relations with resource-rich countries where China has been aggressively extending its presence.

"The new administration wants to put Africa among the top priorities of its international relations. They want to address the concerns of quite a few countries that were frustrated by Obama's choice of Ghana for his one stop in Africa last month. And then there is the issue of a growing rivalry from China for resources," says Pierre Englebert, an Africa specialist at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif. "Clinton's trip is about trying to kill several birds with one stone."

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