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09 March, 2018, 03:39 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Road constructed by Chinese company in Abuja

Tillerson is using his first diplomatic trip to the continent to bolster security alliances on a continent increasingly turning to Beijing for aid and trade.

However looming over the meeting was Trump's alleged description of Africa as a "shithole" in January, which forced the president to pen a letter reaffirming his commitment to the continent and dispatch his top diplomat to try to heal rifts. The reporter said the comment, which Trump has denied, "is something that Africa's still digesting".

Tillerson also said US and African leaders "must work to find long-term diplomatic solutions" to regional conflicts "that cause so much human suffering."He announced the United States will give $533 million in additional aid to alleviate starvation and other needs caused by conflicts in Ethiopia, the Lake Chad Basin, Somalia and South Sudan". "It is important that African countries carefully consider the terms of those agreements and not forfeit their sovereignty". State Department officials said Tillerson wanted to hear from leaders in Africa in what ways they're most eager to collaborate with the United States. It was learnt that the Chinese government has pumped billions into infrastructure projects across Africa. He did not give examples.

Tillerson, sitting beside the Chairperson to the African Union, avoided directly answering questions about President Trump's alleged vulgar language in a discussion about immigrants from African nations - though a journalist bluntly asked him if he agreed with Mr. Trump's controversial comments.

The secretary of state added the US approach of "incentivizing good governance" contrasts sharply with China, "which encourages dependency, using opaque contracts, predatory loan practices and corrupt deals that mire nations in debt and undercut their sovereignty".

Geng Shuang
Geng Shuang

He also claimed that Chinese investments did not lead to significant job creation in Africa.

Tillerson repeated a recent U.S. Embassy statement expressing "concern" over the government's decision to impose a second state of emergency in two years.

"We want to see responsible development and transparent free market practices that foster greater political stability on the continent", he said.

Tillerson's five-nation Africa tour - to include Djibouti, Kenya, Chad and Nigeria - has been described by analysts as a "listening tour", with no deals or initiatives due to be announced. He said the USA was committed to helping, but that prosperity and basic stability would be impossible until the security situation is brought under control.




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