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World Out in Africa? Tillerson trip leaves hosts nonplussed

21:37  13 march  2018
21:37  13 march  2018 Source:

Tillerson heads to Africa with explaining to do for Trump

  Tillerson heads to Africa with explaining to do for Trump <p>As far as Africa's concerned, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the Trump administration have some explaining to do.</p>President Donald Trump's description of "s******e countries" in January was greeted with a mix of horror and outrage in Africa, where many don't know what to think about the U.S. president — or what he thinks of them. He's rarely spoken about priorities for the continent, which garnered a mere seven paragraphs on the very last pages of Trump's National Security Strategy.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Tillerson meets with officials during a stop in Djibouti © REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst Tillerson meets with officials during a stop in Djibouti

From the outset, Rex Tillerson's first trip to Africa looked half-hearted and token, but with the hindsight knowledge that the U.S. Secretary of State was fired just two days in, it's his African hosts who must be wondering why they bothered.

Beyond $533 million in humanitarian aid and some pat remarks about security and not getting too cosy with China, Tillerson's main aim appeared to be clearing up the mess left by President Donald Trump's reported dismissal of some African nations as "shithole countries". Trump later denied making the comment.

U.S.'s Tillerson 'not feeling well', cancels activities in Kenya

  U.S.'s Tillerson 'not feeling well', cancels activities in Kenya U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson canceled scheduled events on Saturday on the second day of a visit to Kenya because "he is not feeling well", a State Department spokesman said. Load Error "The secretary is not feeling well after a long couple days working on major issues back home such as North Korea and has canceled his events for the day," spokesman Steve Goldstein told reporters traveling with Tillerson.

But the revelation from a senior White House official that Trump told Tillerson he was out of a job just two days into the six-day jaunt leaves little room for doubt about the Trump White House's attitude towards the continent.

Given its increasing reliance for aid and trade on China, its main commercial partner, and a recent diplomatic push led by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, the slight is likely to have real consequences for Washington's status on the continent of a billion people.

"This shows Trump's disdain - a real own-goal, especially with Lavrov hot on his heels," said Jackie Cilliers, head of the South Africa-based Institute for Security Studies.

After a brief appearance at the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia, where he spoke of the need for care when doing business with China, Tillerson flew to the Horn of Africa state of Djibouti, then Kenya, an important east African ally.

Tillerson says several steps needed for U.S. talks with North Korea

  Tillerson says several steps needed for U.S. talks with North Korea Several steps will be necessary to agree the location and scope of talks between the United States and North Korea, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Monday. Tillerson has been involved in discussions within the U.S. administration on a possible meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un."There will be several steps necessary to agree on location, agree on the scope of those discussions. It's very early stages. We've not heard anything directly back from North Korea but we expect to hear something directly from them," he said during a visit to Nigeria's capital, Abuja.

His presence in Nairobi on Friday smoothed the way for a kiss-and-make-up meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

It was downhill from there. Tillerson's focus switched to a possible summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un - and trying to keep his job.

On Saturday, he pulled out of his activities in Nairobi, citing ill health, before flying to Chad and Nigeria. His time with leaders there on the front line of the fight against Boko Haram was cut short by the need to get home a day early.

Only hours after he touched down in the United States, Trump announced on Twitter that Tillerson was fired.

For Kenya's chattering political classes, it was a telling window into the priorities of the Trump White House.

"It'd be better for Africa if the Trump administration just ignored us because of the chaos and dysfunction within the administration," said Nanjala Nyabola, a Kenyan writer and political analyst.

'Have they started blaming Russia?' Moscow mocks Tillerson sacking

  'Have they started blaming Russia?' Moscow mocks Tillerson sacking <p>Russia issued a mocking reaction to the surprise sacking of Rex Tillerson as secretary of state.</p>"Have they started blaming Russia yet for the Washington staff changes?" foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a text message sent to AFP.

"It's interesting and disturbing to see the administration flounder so much and not really have a coherent response to any major challenges on the continent and elsewhere."

A spokesman for Kenya's declined to comment. Nigeria's foreign ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

In Nigeria - where Tillerson held talks with President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday - the secretary of state's ousting was met with a sense of weary acceptance.

"American foreign policy has always treated Africa as a leftover, which is why it's not a huge shock that Tillerson was in Africa while they fired him," said Pat Utomi, professor of political economy at Lagos Business School.

"It doesn't augur well for the long-term message of America to Africa, especially with the message he sounded, which was 'beware of China'. This means that the warning he was giving was of no consequence," said Utomi.

(Reporting by Ed Cropley; Additional reporting by Chijoke Ohuocha in Lagos and Maggie Flick in Nairobi; editing by Larry King)

Differences on North Korea key to Trump's Tillerson decision: sources .
<p>Differences over how to deal with North Korea's nuclear challenge were a key factor in President Donald Trump's decision to replace Rex Tillerson as U.S. secretary of state, according to sources familiar with the internal deliberations.</p>Load Error


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