nsucurrent.com March 22, 2018

US Urges African Nations to Put Diplomatic, Economic Pressure on N Korea

09 March 2018, 03:38 | Colleen Roy

Tillerson, Lavrov fail to meet in Ethiopia

US warns Africa over Chinese loans

Speaking on Tuesday at George Mason University in the U.S. state of Virginia, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson panned Chinese financial practices on the African continent, saying they forced African countries into dependency and harmed growth.

It didn't take long for President Donald Trump's "sh**hole" comment about African nations to come up in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's first visit to the continent as top USA diplomat.

The United States is the leading aid donor to Africa but China surpassed it as a trade partner in 2009.

The top USA diplomat and a top African official tried Thursday to move past President Donald Trump's slur about Africa, deeming it a closed matter that need not be revisited.

"Chinese investment has the potential to address Africa's infrastructure gap, but its approach has led to mounting debt and few if any jobs in most countries", Tillerson said.

Lavrov, who was visiting Zimbabwe, said Tillerson's words were inappropriate, state news agency New Ziana reported.

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For Tillerson, who did not visit Africa during his first year as the top US diplomat, it may be that the best way to show deference to a continent suspicious of Trump is to listen.

On Monday, before Tillerson made his remarks, the State Department's Acting Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Don Yamamoto told reporters that the United States and the global community "need to have that discussion with China" on what "their overall goals and operations are on the continent", both in terms of promoting exorbitantly priced infrastructure projects and boosting its military presence there.

Mr. Tillerson arrived Ethiopia on Wednesday and visited the African Union headquarters, built by China, on Thursday. He said the U.S.is providing South Korea with input also. Trump had questioned why the USA would accept more immigrants from Haiti and "shithole countries" in Africa as he rejected an immigration deal, according to one participant and to people briefed on the Oval Office conversation.

Anti-government protests calling for wider political freedoms have been raging in a number of regions in Ethiopia since November 2015, claiming the lives of several hundred people.

Tillerson will then visit Kenya, a U.S. ally in the fight against al Shabaab Islamist militants in Somalia, before traveling to Chad and Nigeria, which are also battling to contain Islamist insurgents.

"The incident is behind us, the visit by the secretary of state today is proof of the importance of relations between the different parties", he said.

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