Powell will arrive in Nairobi on Tuesday from Bangkok where he is now attending the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit with US President George Bush, department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

"Secretary Powell will ... engage with the Sudanese parties to encourage progress in the peace process," he said in a statement. "The success of this process is an important (Bush) administration goal."

Boucher added that Powell would also see senior officials in the Kenyan government to follow up on President Mwai Kibaki's state visit to Washington earlier this month during which the so-called war on terrorism was a major topic.

Tourism dependent

Kenya's economy is heavily dependent on the tourism sector which has been badly damaged by a series of warnings from the US and other nations alerting their citizens of terrorist threats in the country.

Kenyan Foreign Minister Musyoka
(C) is playing host to the talks 

Kenyan officials, including Kibaki when he was in Washington, have repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, appealed for the US warning to be lifted.

The Sudan peace talks – the latest round of which opened northwest of Nairobi on Friday – appear to be yielding significant progress, but it was not clear on Monday whether Powell's plan to attend signaled a breakthrough or that a final agreement was imminent.

State Department officials told AFP on Sunday that Powell had decided to make the trip after lengthy consideration, but played down earlier suggestions that he would not go unless a deal to end Africa's longest running civil war was in the works.

Kenyan Foreign Minister, Kalonzo Musyoka, whose country is host and mediator at the talks, said last week that he expected Powell to participate either "to encourage both parties or to witness the signing of the agreement."