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September 24, 2022 11:04 pm

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Russia | The Guardian: The Guardian view on the US in Africa: a better tone, but what next? | Editorial

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Though the secretary of state struck the right note on his three-nation tour, it will take more than rhetoric to strengthen partnerships on the continent

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The only way was up. When Donald Trump wasn’t denigrating “shithole countries”, his administration showed little interest in Africa. In the second visit to the continent by the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, which wrapped up in Rwanda on Thursday, he sought to continue rebuilding US relationships, moving past not only Mr Trump’s contempt but also the earlier tendency to lecture other governments on their real needs and best options. No one should dictate African choices, Blinken insisted. Washington would not treat democracy as “an area where Africa has problems and the United States has solutions”, but would recognise common challenges to be tackled as equals.

Such humility is welcome and necessary. The question is what such rhetoric means in practice. And while Mr Blinken said that the commitment to a stronger partnership was “not about trying to outdo anyone else”, it is plainly rooted in Washington’s concerns about China’s growing clout and, more recently, Russia’s attempt to woo and reinforce support, with last month’s four-nation tour by its foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. Many African countries are refusing to take a side in the Ukraine war. Gulf states also play a growing role on the continent, particularly in the Horn of Africa. Beyond security interests and competition for mineral resources lie the opportunities afforded by demography: by 2050, a quarter of the world’s population will live in Africa.

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Russia | The Guardian


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