US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will travel this early August to South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, in what is widely seen as a charm offensive weeks after Russia’s foreign minister visited the continent.
Blinken will visit Pretoria, Kinshasa and Kigali, the Department of State announced last Friday (29 July), while the US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, will also go in August to Ghana and Uganda. They will follow in the footsteps of the US aid chief, Samantha Power, who recently completed a trip to longtime Washington ally Kenya, as well as Somalia, where she highlighted the rise in malnutrition aggravated by the war in Ukraine.
This flurry of diplomatic activity comes after Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov undertook his own extensive tour of Africa, where he has sought to cast spiraling global food prices as a consequence of Western sanctions — an idea strongly rebuffed by Washington and its European allies, who have pointed the blame to Moscow’s blockade of Ukrainian ports.
Blinken will send a message that “African countries are geo-strategic players and critical partners on the most pressing issues of our day, from promoting an open and stable international system, to tackling the effects of climate change, food insecurity and global pandemics to shaping our technological and economic futures,” a statement by the US Department of State said.
The top US envoy will be paying his second trip to sub-Saharan Africa since he took office last year with President Joe Biden’s administration. In late 2021, Blinken travelled to Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal.