JOHANNESBURG (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken began his three-nation tour of Africa with his arrival in South Africa on Sunday.
Blinken’s visit to Africa is seen as part of a competition between Russia and Western powers for support from African countries over the war in Ukraine. Blinken’s trip to Africa follows recent tours by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and French President Emmanuel Macron.
South Africa is one of many African countries that have maintained a neutral stance on the war and have not publicly criticized Russia.
On Sunday after an early morning arrival, Blinken is to visit the Hector Pieterson memorial in Soweto township, which commemorates a student killed in 1976 when protesting South Africa’s regime of racial oppression, apartheid, which ended in 1994.
On Monday, Blinken will describe the United States’ strategies for sub-Saharan Africa in a major policy speech at the University of Pretoria. Africa has been hard-hit by the effect of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the rising food and oil prices caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Blinken and Pandor will also hold a press conference Monday in which the two countries’ different positions on the Ukraine war are expected to be visible.
Blinken will go on to visit Congo and Rwanda this week to end his international tour which also took him to Cambodia and the Philippines.