Home » Blinken to visit Ethiopia, Niger as US boosts Africa push

Blinken to visit Ethiopia, Niger as US boosts Africa push

by The Grio

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Ethiopia and Niger next week as the Biden administration accelerates a push to engage with Africa to counter China’s growing influence on the continent, the State Department said Friday.

Blinken will visit Addis Ababa and Niamey starting Tuesday to discuss the peace deal that ended hostilities in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region and counter-terrorism efforts aimed at Islamic extremists in Niger and the Sahel more broadly.

His trip will be the fourth high-profile visit to Africa this year by top members of the Biden administration. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and first lady Jill Biden have already gone there.

Blinken plans to meet with both Ethiopian and Tigrayan officials in Addis Ababa and will be the first secretary of state ever to visit Niger, which has hosted U.S. military operations targeting Islamic State affiliates in the area.

In discussions with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Tigrayan officials, the State Department said Blinken would focus on “implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement to advance peace and promote transitional justice in northern Ethiopia.”

The Tigray conflict led the U.S. to suspend some preferential trade agreements with Ethiopia, which the country is eager to have restored. But the top U.S. diplomat for Africa said Friday that a full normalization of relations will depend on more action from Addis Ababa, particularly after the “earth-shattering” Tigray conflict.

“What we’re looking to do is refashion our engagement with Ethiopia,” said Molly Phee, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs. “We would like to be able to have a partnership that is commensurate with their size and influence and with our interest and commitment to Africa.”

“But to put that…

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