Wednesday, 24 October, 2018

U.S. top diplomat in Kenya for three-day visit

U.S. top diplomat in Kenya for three-day visit U.S. top diplomat in Kenya for three-day visit
Lisa Bryan | 10 March, 2018, 01:46

If you look at other aspects of U.S. -Africa relations, namely diplomatic or economic, you haven't seen as much traction as we're seeing on the security front.

"Oftentimes, the financing models are structured in a way that the country, when it gets into trouble financially, loses control of its own infrastructure or its own resources through default", said the Secretary of State. He did not give examples. He also criticized how Beijing structures loans to African government. He also said the country had a "problem" with its judiciary that needed to be fixed. Many African governments enjoy close ties with both Washington and Beijing.

Trump's latest budget proposal in February slashed spending for Africa by 37%, down $3.1 billion from current levels. Numerous governments called in USA diplomats to demand an explanation.

In Ethiopia, Tillerson's first stop, China has built an electric rail line connecting the capital to the port in neighboring Djibouti and is involved in scores of other projects throughout the country that have made Chinese nationals a ubiquitous sight on the streets.

Tillerson who is on a week's tour of Africa gave the commendation when he met with the AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Mahamat in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is home to some of Beijing's biggest investments, from a railway to Djibouti that opened previous year to factories and industrial parks.

U.S. top diplomat in Kenya for three-day visit

This he contrasted with the Chinese Communist Party, which, he said, "encourages dependency using opaque contracts, predatory loan practices, and corrupt deals that mire nations in debt and undercut their sovereignty, denying them their long-term, self-sustaining growth". The Secretary commended the Prime Minister for his commitment to Ethiopia's future, demonstrated by his decision to step down, to facilitate a peaceful transition, and to make way for further reforms.

The Secretary of State will be in the country until Monday March, 12. Details of their discussions were not released.

On trade, Tillerson said USA supported AU's economic regional integration efforts to lower intra-trade barriers on the continent and boost more intra-regional trade.

Though the deliverables of this trip, as well as the launch of any new initiatives, remain unclear, the set of countries that Tillerson is visiting indicates that security is indeed the primary focus.

Trump administration officials have repeatedly emphasized the pivotal role that China plays in emboldening North Korea as its largest trading partner. AFRICOM had already begun engaging China, particularly in Djibouti, where the two countries had military bases just a few kilometres apart.

He will then visit Kenya, a key USA ally in the fight against al Shabaab Islamist militants in Somalia, before traveling to Chad and Nigeria, which are also battling to contain Islamist insurgents. 'The last time great powers cooperated on managing their conflicting interests in Africa, it did not work out that well for Africans, ' he said, referring to the infamous 1884-1885 Berlin Conference where the European powers carved up the continent.


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