The State Department said on Friday that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit South Africa and the Republic of the Congo.
He will also visit Rwanda in the next month as Washington steps up its diplomatic efforts in Africa to counter a Russian charm offensive.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US envoy to the UN, will visit Ghana and Uganda in August as well.
Samantha Power, the US assistant secretary of state for international development, recently returned from a trip that took her to Somalia and longtime ally Kenya.
On that trip, she emphasized the rise in malnourishment that has been made worse by Russia’s incursion of Ukraine.
The trip followed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s own extended trip to Africa, where he attempted to blame international sanctions for the rise in food prices throughout the world.
However, Washington dismissed this theory and instead pointed to Moscow’s embargo of Ukrainian ports.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to make first official trip to Africa next week, visiting Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal. pic.twitter.com/P0JDOc8J8T
— InooroKe (@inooroke) November 12, 2021
Due to its studious neutral stance on the Ukraine conflict and refusal to support western calls to denounce Moscow, South Africa, a leading nation in the developing world, has become a key diplomatic flashpoint.
From August 7 to 9, Blinken will go to Johannesburg and Pretoria, the nation’s administrative centers.
He will then head to the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kinshasa, in an effort to help the largest nation in sub-Saharan Africa as it works to put decades of strife behind it.
He will end his journey in Rwanda, which has seen relations with the DRC rise after the latter accused its neighbor to the east of supporting the M23 rebels, a claim Kigali has refuted.
Rwanda is a massive target for investment
According to the Secretary of State, Paul Rusesabagina, who is believed to have saved thousands of lives during the 1994 genocide and served as the inspiration for the film Hotel Rwanda, would be the target of Blinken’s pressure.
Rusesabagina was given a 25-year custodial sentence for “terror” in 2020 after a jet he thought was headed for Burundi crashed in Kigali.
Since joining President Joe Biden’s cabinet last year, Blinken has made two trips to sub-Saharan Africa. He visited Kenya, Nigeria, and Senegal around the end of last year.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Nigeria for his first ever trip to sub-Saharan Africa to tighten the relations with the countries in the region pic.twitter.com/Dk7dFvDCdn
— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) November 18, 2021
Prior to Russia’s incursion of Ukraine in February, the US’ efforts in Africa were heavily framed in terms of the contest with China.
China has invested heavily in infrastructure development on the continent while setting itself apart from the US by trying to make no demands regarding democracy or civil rights.
Although the Biden government has recognized China as the US’ main long-term rival, it placed its short-term attention on Russia’s counteraction.
Developing countries, particularly those in Africa and South Asia, have been less eager to punish Moscow for its assault on Ukraine, despite the immense indignation and efforts made by western states to do so.