ABIDJAN: Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday the United States was committed to deeper relations with Africa despite global crises as he opened a trip in the shadow of coups and the rising influence of Russia and China on the continent.
Blinken is touring four democracies on the Atlantic Coast — Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Angola — as security deteriorates in the Sahel and doubts grow about a key US base in coup-hit Niger.
President Joe Biden welcomed African leaders in 2022 in a show of newfound US attention to the continent.
But Biden failed to live up to a promise to visit last year and Blinken’s trip is his first to sub-Saharan Africa in 10 months as he has been consumed since October with the Israel-Hamas war.
Blinken nonetheless quoted Biden as he vowed “We are all in when it comes to Africa.”
“Our futures are linked, our prosperity is linked, and African voices increasingly are shaping, animating and leading the global conversation,” Blinken said as he opened talks in Cape Verde.
“The United States is committed to deepening, strengthening and broadening partnerships across Africa,” Blinken said.
He called Cape Verde, a Portuguese-speaking archipelago of some half million people that has cooperated with the United States on law enforcement and naval stops, a “beacon of stability” and a “strong, principled voice”.
Much of the continent has been uneasy about the billions of dollars in Western aid to Ukraine and Prime Minister Jose Ulisses Correia e Silva told Blinken that Cape Verde “strongly condemns” Russia’s invasion.
Silva also criticised coups in Africa and said that Cape Verde was “guided by the values of liberal democracy”.
Blinken toured the port in the capital Praia, expanded as part of nearly $150 million given to Cape Verde through the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which grants US aid to countries that meet democratic standards.
The US government body said last month it will work with Cape Verde on a third package, and Silva invited the Peace Corps to return after a decade-long absence.