Published: Sun, January 28, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Trump letter to African leaders says Tillerson to visit soon

Trump letter to African leaders says Tillerson to visit soon

US President Donald Trump today said he supports free trade but it has to be fair and reciprocal, as he reaffirmed his nuanced commitment to "America First" policy, saying it does not mean "America alone".

The US president ignored questions shouted by journalists about his reported dismissal this month of African nations as "sh*thole countries", during a meeting on immigration with congressional leaders in US capital, Washington DC three weeks ago.

As president, Trump said he would always protect the interests of his country, workers and companies. Concerns have been widespread over proposed deep cuts to USA foreign aid and a shift from humanitarian assistance to counterterrorism.

Donald Trump reportedly signed a letter advising African leaders that he "deeply respects" the people of Africa ahead of this weekend's African Union summit.

Trump's letter, seen by The Associated Press and confirmed by two USA officials, says the U.S.

Trump also said the worldwide system "needs to be fair" and that "unfair trade undermines us all".

The letter gives no details on Mr Tillerson's upcoming visit. A State Department official said it was expected to include stops in four to six countries.

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Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) who was present, contradicted him and said the president repeatedly used the racist insult. He added that Trump "doesn't sleep much", estimating that the president sleeps four to five hours a night.

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Trump tweeted after the meeting that it "was an honor" to meet with Kagame. The Rwandan government said Kagame had "observed that numerous world's fastest-growing economies are in Africa".

Trump offers his "best wishes for a successful summit" and notes that US and African troops are "fighting side by side to defeat terrorists and build secure communities".

The 55-nation African Union chaired by Kagame demanded an apology, although Trump had denied making the remark as relayed by U.S. lawmakers that were present at the meeting.

An AU spokeswoman has said the organisation was "frankly alarmed" by the comments, and a number of African nations have spoken out or summoned United States diplomats to explain.

The letter offers President Trump's "deepest compliments" to the African leaders as they gather.

The State Department hurried to reassure African nations, with the department's Bureau of African Affairs tweeting that "the United States will continue to robustly, enthusiastically and forcefully engage" with them.

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