WASHINGTON – (AP) – Foreign Minister Antony Blinken is due to travel to Africa next week as the Biden government intensifies diplomatic efforts to resolve the crises in Ethiopia and Sudan and seeks to strengthen cooperation on counter-terrorism, the State Department said Thursday with.
On Monday, Blinken will be setting out on his first trip to sub-Saharan Africa as America’s top diplomat to visit Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal. In April Blinken held online talks with the heads of state and government of Nigeria and Kenya, which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs described at the time as a “virtual trip to Africa”.
Although he does not want to visit Ethiopia or Sudan, both countries and neighboring Somalia are high on his agenda for his first stop in Kenya.
Kenya, currently a member of the UN Security Council, has played a key role in regional efforts to alleviate the worsening conflict in Ethiopia and has long sought to stabilize troubled Somalia. It has also supported broader attempts to restore the civilian-led government in Sudan after a coup last month.
Blinken and Kenyan officials, including President Uhuru Kenyatta, will “discuss our common interests as members of the UN Security Council, including regional security issues such as Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan,” the State Department said.
The Biden government’s special envoy to the Horn of Africa shuttled between Kenya and Ethiopia earlier this week to promote an African Union-led initiative to end the fighting between the Ethiopian government and ethnic Tigrayans from the north of the country.
In Nigeria and Senegal, the Foreign Ministry said Blinken will address West African security, health, climate, democracy and development issues, including recovering from the coronavirus pandemic and promoting a more equitable and inclusive world economy. He will also push for an expansion of US trade and trade relations with the two countries, it said.
In Abuja he will meet the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and give a speech on the Africa strategy of the Biden government. He ends his trip in Dakar, where he meets Senegalese President Macky Sall, who will soon take over the presidency of the African Union.
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