JOHANNESBURG (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken kicked off his three-nation tour of Africa by arriving in South Africa on Sunday.
Blinken’s visit to Africa is seen as part of a competition between Russia and Western powers for support from African countries for the war in Ukraine. Blinken’s trip to Africa follows recent tours by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and French President Emmanuel Macron.
South Africa is one of several African countries that have maintained a neutral stance in the war and have not publicly criticized Russia.
On Sunday, after an early morning arrival, Blinken is due to visit the Hector Pieterson memorial in the town of Soweto, which commemorates a student who was killed in 1976 while protesting against South Africa’s racially oppressive apartheid regime. which ended in 1994.
On Monday, Blinken will outline the United States’ strategies for sub-Saharan Africa in a major policy speech at the University of Pretoria. Africa has been hit hard by the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic and rising food and oil prices caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Blinken and Pandor will also hold a news conference on Monday, which is expected to show the two countries’ differing positions on the Ukraine war.
Blinken will visit Congo and Rwanda this week to complete his international tour, which has also taken him to Cambodia and the Philippines.