US Tillerson billed to visit African leaders next week
Between March 6 and 13, the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected to be in Africa in his first visit to the continent since President Donald Trump entered office, the State department said Thursday.
Tillerson will travel to “N’Djamena, Chad; Djibouti, Djibouti; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Nairobi, Kenya; and Abuja, Nigeria”, department spokesperson Heather Nauert announced Thursday.
The visit follows a scandal which erupted when President Donald Trump allegedly branded African nations “shithole countries” in January.
Tillerson will meet with leaders in each country, along with African Union leadership based in Addis Ababa.
“He plans to discuss ways we can work with our partners to counter terrorism, advance peace and security, promote good governance, and spur mutually beneficial trade and investment,” Nauert added.
Against the background of his shithole comment, categorizing African countries and Haiti as ‘Shithole countries’, former United States ambassadors to 48 African countries sent a letter to the White House, urging President Donald Trump to desist from disregarding Africa.
The seventy-eight ex-envoys expressed a deep concern over Trump’s remarks about the continent.
The January 11th ‘shithole’ comment elicited condemnations, not only from Africa but also from world leaders. French President Emmanuel Macron said he shared the ‘outrage’ and described it as ‘disparaging.’
Nigeria and South Africa summoned U.S. diplomats to clarify their president’s vulgar remarks even as African ambassadors at the United Nations met with the U.S. ambassador to the U.N, Nikki Haley on Thursday. Haley did not apologise but reportedly told the African envoys that the continent “is very important for the United States.”
The Guardian reports that 78 former U.S. ambassadors to Africa, in the joint letter said they jointly signed the letter “to attest to the importance of our partnerships with most of the 54 African nations. Africa is a continent of great human talent and rich diversity, as well as extraordinary beauty and almost unparalleled natural resources. It is also a continent with deep historical ties with the United States.”
Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama traveled to Ghana six months after taking office with a message that Africa’s destiny is in the hands of its own people.