U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in South Africa on Sunday, the first leg of his three-nation African tour.
In addition to South Africa, Blinken is also set to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.
Blinken is slated to deliver a major speech in South Africa on Monday on U.S. strategy toward sub-Saharan Africa. Climate change, trade, health and food insecurity will all be topics of discussion.
While in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, State Department officials say Blinken will work to reduce tensions between Congo and Rwanda. Congo has accused its neighbor of backing the M23 armed group, a charge Kigali denies.
In Rwanda, Blinken will raise the “wrongful detention” of U.S. permanent resident Paul Rusesabagina, according to the State Department. Rusesabagina’s actions helped save hundreds of lives during the 1994 genocide and inspired the movie Hotel Rwanda.
His trip comes just days after the top Russian diplomat, Sergey Lavrov, completed his tour of the continent, where he defended Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and blamed Western sanctions for Africa’s rising fuel and food costs. The United States has blamed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for driving up prices.
Political analysts say Africa has again become a battleground for influence and ideology decades after the end of the Cold War.
This is Blinken’s second trip to Africa as secretary of state, after visiting Nigeria, Senegal and Kenya in November.