18 May

Trump to host Nigerian president at White House

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari is to become the first African leader to visit Donald Trump – just three months after the US president is reported as dismissing African nations as “shithole countries”.

Mr Buhari will arrive in Washington on Monday to discuss economic, security and military ties. But observers wonder if Mr Trump’s past remarks may cause some friction.

In January, he was reported to have asked a private meeting of American lawmakers: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

The comment – which Mr Trump denied – was referring to African countries in particular, according to Senator Dick Durbin who was present at the meeting. Speaking at the time, Mr Durbin said the language had been “hate-filled, vile and racist”. Mr Trump responded by telling reporters: “I’m the least racist person you have ever interviewed.”

The meeting comes weeks after Rex Tillerson, then US secretary of state, visited Nigeria and other African countries. That trip was widely seen as an attempt to smooth relations after Mr Trump’s alleged comments caused outrage across the continent.

“President Trump looks forward to discussing ways to enhance our strategic partnership and advance our shared priorities,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

She added that priorities would include “promoting economic growth and reforms, fighting terrorism and other threats to peace and security, and building on Nigeria’s role as a democratic leader in the region”.

Mr Buhari, a 75-year-old former military leader, is expected to stress his commitment to democracy despite reports of rampant corruption and poor governance, according to Reuters.

He will stress the importance of the West African country’s role in ensuring stability across the continent despite itself facing insurgency threats by terror group Boko Haram in the north east.

After the talks, he will meet businesses specialising in agriculture. Senior Nigerian government officials will also discuss a number of projects with executives from major US transport companies.

Source: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/trump-nigeria-president-white-house-africa-muhammadu-buhari-oil-a8329186.html

07 Mar

Tillerson Heads to Africa With Security, Not Aid, as U.S. Focus

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson begins his first official trip to sub-Saharan Africa with a pledge to help shore up trade, civic freedom and good governance in countries that President Donald Trump has harshly criticized.

U.S. budgetary priorities tell a different story. Tillerson heads to the continent with the Trump administration advocating cuts of more than a third in aid to African countries and programs, along with deep reductions to global health initiatives.

With several U.S. allies struggling to rein in Islamist extremist groups, and China increasingly making inroads on the continent, the U.S. security relationship will be the focus.

While the top U.S. diplomat has a broad itinerary on his five-nation trip, Africa experts say Tillerson’s planned stops in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Chad and Nigeria underscore the emphasis on security — and away from the traditional U.S. role as advocate and partner for good governance and development.

“The common thread among them all is a security partnership,” said Jennifer Cooke, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The substance of what he conveys may be more diverse, but given the signals coming out of the White House and administration to date, I imagine that security is top of the order, along with cementing relationships with partners that the U.S. considers important security players.”

While Tillerson announced $533 million in new aid to fight famine and food insecurity on the continent in a speech Tuesday before his departure, State Department officials have downplayed the possibility of big announcements or new initiatives during the trip.

Adding to a sense of drift, U.S. exports to Africa in 2017 hit their lowest since 2006, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures, while senior State Department posts for the continent remain unstaffed.

 

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