US Secretary of State blinkens Africa amidst Sahel concerns

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken begins West Africa tour amid concerns about regional security and US commitment to deeper relations with Africa.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken Embarks on African Tour

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken begins his tour of West Africa as another top US official simultaneously visits the region. Blinken emphasizes the US commitment to deeper relations with Africa despite global crises.

Opening Talks in Cape Verde

Blinken is visiting four democracies on the Atlantic Coast – Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and Angola. He highlights the US commitment to deepening, strengthening, and broadening partnerships across Africa. Blinken opens talks in Cape Verde and emphasizes the interconnected futures and prosperity of the US and Africa.

He calls Cape Verde a “beacon of stability” and a “strong, principled voice”, acknowledging its cooperation with the US on law enforcement and naval stops. Cape Verde’s Prime Minister Jose Ulisses Correia e Silva condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and emphasizes the country’s commitment to the values of liberal democracy.

Blinken tours the port in the capital Praia, expanded as part of nearly $150m given to Cape Verde through the Millennium Challenge Corporation. The US government body plans to work with Cape Verde on a third package, and Silva invites the Peace Corps to return after a decade-long absence.

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Continued Tour in Ivory Coast

Blinken will then head to Ivory Coast, where he will attend the Africa Cup of Nations. The match will take place at the 60,000-seat Olympic stadium built with support from China. Blinken’s visit comes after China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited the region, signaling the rapid expansion of Chinese influence in Africa.

US Efforts in Niger and West Africa

The US had been focusing efforts on Niger to counter armed groups in the Sahel, but doubts grow about a key US base in the coup-hit country. Niger’s military toppled elected President Mohamed Bazoum months after a visit by Blinken aimed at bolstering him.

The US had been building a $100m base in the Nigerien desert city of Agadez to fly a fleet of drones, but discussions are ongoing for a new drone base in several locations elsewhere in West Africa. US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield is simultaneously touring other West African nations, attending a presidential inauguration in Liberia and monitoring a peaceful transition of power in a once-turbulent nation.

As the US aims to strengthen its partnerships and influence in Africa, the region becomes a focal point for global geopolitics and strategic interests. Blinken’s tour and the broader US engagement in West Africa emphasize the significance of the continent in shaping global conversations and partnerships.