American Blinken begins tour of four African countries amid concerns in the Sahel | Political news

by MMC
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Biden’s West Africa tour begins as another top U.S. official takes a similar tour of the region.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that the United States was committed to deepening its relationship with Africa despite global crises, as he opened a four-country tour of the continent.

Blinken is touring four Atlantic coast democracies – Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Angola – as security deteriorates in the Sahel and doubts grow over a key US base in the Neighboring Niger, hit by the coup.

US President Joe Biden hosted African leaders in 2022, signaling a new focus on the continent. But he did not travel to Africa last year as promised.

Blinken nevertheless quoted Biden as he promised: “We are all in agreement when it comes to Africa. »

“Our futures are linked, our prosperity is linked, and African voices are increasingly shaping, animating and leading the global conversation,” Blinken said as he opened negotiations in Cape Verde.

“The United States is committed to deepening, strengthening and expanding our partnerships across Africa,” Blinken said.

He called Cape Verde, a Portuguese-speaking archipelago of about 500,000 people that has cooperated with the United States on law enforcement and naval ports of call, a “beacon of stability” and a “strong and “principled”.

Much of the continent is concerned about billions of dollars in Western aid to Ukraine, and Cape Verdean Prime Minister José Ulisses Correia e Silva told Blinken that his country “strongly condemns” Iran’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia.

Silva also criticized the recent wave of coups in Africa and said Cape Verde was “guided by the values ​​of liberal democracy.”

Blinken visited the port in the capital Praia, expanded as part of nearly $150 million awarded to Cape Verde through the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which awards U.S. aid to countries that meet democratic standards.

The U.S. government body said last month it would work with Cape Verde on a third package, and Silva invited the Peace Corps to return after a decade away.

Later Monday, Blinken will travel to Ivory Coast, where he will watch the host nation take on Equatorial Guinea in the Africa Cup of Nations.

The match will take place in the 60,000-seat Olympic Stadium built with Chinese support, which Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited last week.

Alongside Russia, China – seen by the United States as the main global rival – has rapidly expanded its influence in Africa in recent years.

While China provides loans for infrastructure projects, the powerful and ruthless Russian mercenary group Wagner has been deployed in Mali, the Central African Republic and, reportedly, Burkina Faso.

A delegation from Niger visited Moscow last month, whose army last year overthrew elected President Mohamed Bazoum months after a visit by Blinken aimed at strengthening him.

Niger has been the linchpin of US efforts to counter armed groups that have ravaged the Sahel, with the US building a $100 million base in the Nigerien desert city of Agadez to pilot a fleet of drones .

The government expelled forces from former colonial power France.

While Niger allowed the United States to retain nearly 1,000 U.S. troops, Gen. James Hecker, U.S. Air Force Europe and Africa commander, said late in the day. last year that “several locations” elsewhere in West Africa were under discussion for a new drone base. .

As Blinken opens his visit, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield is visiting three other West African countries: Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone and Liberia, where she is attending the presidential inauguration and oversees a peaceful transition of power in a once-turbulent nation.

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