WASHINGTON United States (Xinhua) --
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
said Tuesday that the United States will provide additional aid
for African countries suffering conflict and drought, while
asking for their aligned actions on the global stage.
In a speech at the
George Mason University in Virginia, Tillerson said the United
States would provide about 533 million U.S. dollars in extra aid
The aid will go to
Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and the western and central
African countries bordering Lake Chad, hit by a food crisis due
to conflict or prolonged drought.
In the speech
delivered ahead of his week-long trip to Africa, the top U.S.
diplomat also urged more African countries to “take an active
role on the global stage,” including joining Washington in its
“maximum pressure” strategy against the Democratic People’s
Republic of Korea (DPRK) to curb the latter’s nuclear
efforts by Angola, Senegal and Ethiopia, Tillerson said many
African countries are “holding back.”
“Nations in Africa
need to do more,” he remarked.
In his roughly
40-minute speech, Tillerson expressed Washington’s intention of
developing closer ties with the continent and more economic and
trade exchanges. The U.S. private sector, he said, was willing
to help develop the “vast, undeveloped natural resources” in
eight-day trip to Africa starts Tuesday and will take him to
Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Chad and Nigeria.
administration hasn’t shed much light on Africa in its foreign
policy priorities. The post of assistant secretary of state for
African affairs had been vacant for several months before an
acting assistant secretary was appointed.
The policies as well
as personal remarks by U.S. President Donald Trump have so far
worked to jeopardize ties between Washington and African
In December, the
U.S. Supreme Court approved Trump’s ban on almost all travel to
the U.S. by citizens from countries including Chad, Somalia and
Libya from entering the United States. The controversial
decision has drawn serious criticism at home and abroad.
In January, Trump
reportedly used the words “shithole countries” to describe
African nations as well as Haiti and El Salvador in Latin
America while discussing immigration issues with U.S. lawmakers.
The African Union
issued a statement in protest, saying, “While expressing shock,
dismay and outrage, the African Union strongly believes there’s
a huge misunderstanding of the African continent and its people
by the current (U.S.) administration.”
During his visit to
Chad, Tillerson is expected to help it to get off the visa
“We also want to
give Chad importance because they’re part of the G5 countries,”
U.S. officials said on Friday when briefing reporters on
Tillerson’s trip. “We’re very high on Africa.”
The G5 Sahel is an
African regional security bloc comprising Chad, Mali,
Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger.
Ethiopia visit to stress US interest-based diplomacy: analyst
ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) --
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s
visit to Ethiopia starting on Wednesday will most likely focus
on mutual-interest issues and less on promoting human rights and
democracy, an Ethiopian analyst said Tuesday.
According to the
U.S. State Department, Tillerson’s first official trip to Africa
will start in Ethiopia before taking him to Chad, Djibouti,
Kenya and Nigeria.
Abebe Aynete, Senior
Researcher of the Ethiopian Foreign Relations Strategic Studies
(EFRSS), said the trip will show the U.S. foreign policy
orientation moving significantly to a more “you scratch my back
and I’ll scratch yours” approach from the traditional human
rights and democracy promotion mantra.
He also said with
Trump’s purported vulgar comments on Africa in January still
fresh in the mind of many Africans, the visit is likely to be
lower key than past visits by high-ranking U.S. officials.
“While Tillerson and
Trump who come from a business background see U.S. relations
with the rest of the world as transactional, it’s unclear
whether it will show a clearer U.S. global diplomatic strategy,”
expected to meet officials of the five countries as well as the
leadership of the African Union Commission (AUC) based in
Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, in a bid to further the U.S.
partnerships with the African continent.
On Monday, U.S.
Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald
Yamamoto said Tillerson will meet AU officials to discuss issues
including South Sudan, DR Congo, Somalia, and the G5 countries.
On Ethiopian issues,
Yamamoto said “we’re looking at not only the transition of a
prime minister, but also the institution and the strengthening
of institutions.” He added that “We are also looking at the
problems in Oromia and the Somali region, and we are looking at
probably about a million people displaced.”
and human rights issues are also said to other issues for
discussion during Tillerson’s stay in Ethiopia.
Costantinos, professor of public policy at Ethiopia’s Addis
Ababa University, expected Tillerson’s visit to Ethiopia to
focus on the U.S.-Ethiopia relations, the fight against terror,
Ethiopia’s large peacekeeping operations in Africa and its
current political trouble.
As Ethiopia remains among the largest peacekeeping force
providers in the African continent, the fight against terror in
the region and throughout the continent would be an area of
interest during Tillerson’s visit to Ethiopia, said Costantinos.