Published: Sat, March 10, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Africa Visit: Tillerson To Focus On Population, Institutions, Human Rights

Africa Visit: Tillerson To Focus On Population, Institutions, Human Rights

U.S officials emphasized Ethiopia's complex role in regional security among other areas of interest that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will discuss with Ethiopian officials this week. Prior to his arrival in Ethiopia, the White House reported that the tour had been oriented to foster cooperation and mutual respect, based on understanding.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Department of State provided the funding through which the vulnerable populations are expected to secure emergency food and nutrition assistance, including tens of thousands of tons of in-kind food aid.

"And also we're looking hopefully at South Africa with the election of Cyril Ramaphosa from Jacob Zuma and seeing how that's going to transition", the State Department said.

While absent from the State Department's official announcement of Tillerson's visit, recent reports have cited rising Chinese influence in Africa as a key reason for the trip.

He will spend about a week on the continent visiting countries that play key roles in addressing Africa's security challenges, including Nigeria, Chad and Djibouti, which houses the only permanent USA military base in Africa.

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"40 years ago this month, President Jimmy Carter visited Liberia and Nigeria, where he announced that "our nation has now turned in an unprecedented way toward Africa". Tillerson did announce Tuesday an additional $533 million in humanitarian assistance to help with starvation and conflict-related needs in Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria, but it was unclear exactly where the money would come from.

"And I know that in the last administrations, even the last three, we have always said going to Nigeria is critical to stability and the future for the USA relationship in West Africa".

"Neither Trump or Tillerson has announced an overarching Africa policy".

The United States is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance in Africa, providing roughly $3 billion in aid since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2017, the state department said. "When do we get to see the outlines of what the Trump Africa policy is?" The visit could also indicate the direction of the Trump administration in Africa. There is still no assistant secretary of state for Africa, no US ambassador to South Africa, and numerous other Africa-related positions remain unfilled. No assistant secretary for Africa has been named. This rhetoric implies little change in the US agenda in Africa since the end of the cold war and may reflect apparent White House disengagement and disinterest in the world's second largest continent. "He received support from the commander of US military forces in Africa, who advocated Tuesday for a stronger diplomatic arm on the continent..." Kenya faces unresolved issues related to its recent contested presidential elections. The energy behemoth has significant business dealings in sub-Saharan Africa, including in Chad, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea.

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