With Security in Mind, Tillerson Tries to Move Past Trump’s Vulgar Africa Comments

With Security in Mind, Tillerson Tries to Move Past Trump’s Vulgar Africa Comments
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson leaves the podium after addressing a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Dec. 6, 2017 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent.

Two months after U.S. President Donald Trump crudely denigrated African countries during talks with American lawmakers on immigration reform, Rex Tillerson embarked on his first trip to the continent as secretary of state. The five-country tour that began this week was a clear attempt at damage control that also shed further light on U.S. priorities in the region.

Before departing, Tillerson announced a new pledge of $533 million for humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia, his first stop, and a host of other countries, including those bordering the Lake Chad basin. Yet his itinerary highlighted his focus on security issues, a hallmark of the Trump administration’s approach to the continent. In addition to Ethiopia, Tillerson was scheduled to visit Kenya, Chad, Djibouti and Nigeria, all of which are U.S. security partners.

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