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Published: Fri, March 09, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Tillerson's words about China-Africa relationship inappropriate: Russian FM

Tillerson's words about China-Africa relationship inappropriate: Russian FM

Tillerson has said US policy toward Africa is based on promoting security, development and good governance.

"Stimulating intra-continental economic activity and trade from countries on the continent is actually going to create even more opportunity for inbound foreign investment and certainly USA business interest", he added, even as his boss tweeted about new US tariffs on steel and aluminum. In his opening remarks with Faki, he said the US and Africa have "enjoyed many, many years of positive relationships". As one senior State Department official briefing reporters on condition of anonymity put it: "There's really no deliverables".

The US now has some 6,000 military personnel spread across Africa.

This trip marks Tillerson's first official visit to Africa as Secretary of State since taking office 14 months ago and will begin in Ethiopia before moving to Djibouti and onto to Kenya, Chad and finally Nigeria.

Chad, Kenya and Nigeria are all battling Islamic extremism, with help from the United States, while Djibouti hosts the only permanent U.S. military base on the continent.

"The United States commitment to Africa is quite clear in terms of the importance we place on the relationship", Tillerson responded, referencing Trump's "personal letter to the chairperson, reaffirming the importance of this relationship".

The trip is his first to Africa, which has since turned to China in trade and investment agreements.

Rex Tillerson receives a cup of brewed coffee during a traditional coffee ceremony
at the U.S. embassy in Addis Ababa Ethiopia Thursday
Rex Tillerson receives a cup of brewed coffee during a traditional coffee ceremony at the U.S. embassy in Addis Ababa Ethiopia Thursday

Touting America's model of development assistance as one that demands transparency, good governance practices, and respect for human rights in exchange for USA "partnerships", Tillerson said it "stands in stark contrast to China's approach". The day before Tillerson's departure, about 100 protesters gathered outside Tillerson's office in Washington chanting against the government.

Tillerson had earlier on acknowledged the potential Chinese investments in Africa had in filling up its infrastructure gap but warned that dependency on China would lead to mounting debt, undermining Africa's sovereignty and thus potentially endangering future independence and sustainable growth through vague contracts, predatory loans and corrupt trade.

Tillerson will also visit Kenya, where the political system is in turmoil over disputes related to President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election. He did not give examples. Numerous governments called in USA diplomats to demand an explanation.

The trip comes as the Trump administration reverses course — again — on whether to let Americans import the body parts of African elephants shot for recreation. But word emerged Tuesday that the administration would start approving elephant trophy importing on a "case-by-case" basis. "We know where our interests' lies and it is our full awareness I think that is most important", Mahamat said. Another $110 million was destined for Ethiopia to help amid a drought.

What sub-Saharan Africa is looking for in the US "is a good partner in economic development ... a better commercial and investing partner", adds Ambassador Carson, who is now an Africa expert at the US Institute of Peace in Washington.

Though he has yet to visit as diplomat, Tillerson is not a stranger to Africa, which he visited frequently in search of deals in his previous job as CEO of Exxon Mobil.

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