By Cecilia Ologunagba
U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, will travel to Nigeria, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire and Angola from Sunday, Jan. 21 to Friday, Jan. 26.
The U.S. State Department Spokesperson, Matthew Miller, in a statement on Thursday said that the trip was to deepen the diplomatic relationship between the U.S. and Africa.
Throughout the trip, the Secretary will highlight how the United States has accelerated the U.S.-Africa partnership in areas such as climate, food and health security, since the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Dec. 2022.
Blinken would begin his visit to the four countries on Sunday for talks focused on regional security, conflict prevention, democracy promotion and trade.
Nigeria is West Africa’s regional heavyweight and plays a major role in security issues, especially those involving Islamic extremist violence in the Sahel, the vast arid expanse south of the Sahara Desert.
The trip will be his third overseas mission in the new year.
He returned from a Gaza-focused, weeklong 10-nation trip to the Middle East last Thursday and a three-day trip to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland on Wednesday.
Blinken’s Africa trip comes as the United States is increasingly nervous about its relationships on the continent, particularly after coups in Niger and Gabon in 2023, and escalating unrest in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In addition, the U.S. and China are in a battle for influence throughout Africa. That topic will likely top his agenda in Angola, which China has targeted for significant investment.
Blinken will highlight the administration’s partnership with African nations on issues such as the climate, economic investment, food and health.
While in Ivory Coast, Blinken may attend an Africa Cup of Nations soccer match between the host country and Equatorial Guinea.