Monday, 16 July, 2018

Hosting Tillerson, AU head says he's over 'shithole' remark

Left out of the loop? US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was not consulted about Trump's shock decision to meet North Korea's leader Hosting Tillerson, AU head says he's over 'shithole' remark
Melinda Barton | 09 March, 2018, 02:39

In January, Trump caused outcry on the continent after reportedly saying that some African countries were "shitholes", prompting several nations to summon their US ambassadors for explanation and demand apologies.

China surpassed the U.S. in 2009 to become Africa's biggest trading partner - and its share of trade continues to grow compared to the United States.

Tillerson, on a five-country swing across Africa, has emphasized his trip is aimed at hearing African leaders' concerns. 'The last time great powers cooperated on managing their conflicting interests in Africa, it did not work out that well for Africans, ' he said, referring to the infamous 1884-1885 Berlin Conference where the European powers carved up the continent.

Tillerson argued that this USA approach stood in "stark contrast" to Chinese methods in Africa, which encourage "dependency using opaque contracts, predatory loan practices, and corrupt deals that mire nations in debt and undercut their sovereignty, denying them their long-term, self-sustaining growth".

Acting US assistant secretary of state for Africa, Donald Yamamoto avoided a direct answer to the question about whether or not the US thought the decision on land would hurt US investment to South Africa. "When coupled with the political and fiscal pressure, this endangers Africa's natural resources and its long-term economic political stability".

U.S. officials had earlier said that Tillerson would probably visit South Africa once the Ramaphosa administration had settled in.

He says he doesn't yet know if the conditions are right for negotiations over the North's nuclear program. AFRICOM had already begun engaging China, particularly in Djibouti, where the two countries had military bases just a few kilometres apart. "This is and must be a global effort".

-For decades, the United States has vaunted the advantages and promise of deeper engagement with Africa, but more often than not the action has failed to match the rhetoric. All are key security partners of the USA - indeed Tillerson dedicated the first half of his George Mason speech to the importance of United States security arrangements in Africa. "We hope China will join us in this effort as well".

Yamamoto expressed USA concern about China and other countries providing low-interest loans to African countries, which he said were pushing many African countries into unsustainable debt.

Russian Federation denounced the distortions by the United States about the organization of a meeting between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Ethiopia.

Nevertheless Waldhauser said there were opportunities for the USA and China to work together because of a shared interest in Africa's stability. "In particular, the developed countries should earnestly deliver on their commitment", spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters. But she added that in several other African countries more debt was owed to traditional lenders such as the World Bank and Western commercial banks than to China. Mr. Trump's remarks from January are, "an incident of the past", he said.

Tillerson is in Ethiopia on his first official tour of Africa before traveling to Chad, Djibouti, Kenya and Nigeria where he is expected to meet with top leaders in each country.

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