Secretary Blinken’s Travel to Cambodia, the Philippines, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda where he will appeal the wrongful detention case of U.S. resident Paul Rusesabagina.

Ange Eric Hatangimana

Rémy RUGIRA

South Africans will welcome United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken next week, as he begins a three-nation tour meant to strengthen U.S. relationships with African nations.While in Pretoria, Blinken plans to present the U.S. Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa. It reaffirms the U.S. position that “African countries are geostrategic players and critical partners on the most pressing issues of our day,” the department said in a statement.

The U.S. delegation will participate in the U.S.-South Africa Strategic Dialogue, with a priority on climate change, food insecurity, and trade and economic development. Blinken’s visit comes ahead of a planned U.S.-Africa leaders summit in the U.S. in December, and follows the recent U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Morocco.

Blinken will follow his South Africa visit with a stop in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with a focus on human rights and ensuring free and fair elections in 2023.

“He will also focus on combating corruption, supporting trade and investment, addressing the climate crisis, building agricultural resilience, and supporting regional African efforts to advance peace in eastern DRC and the broader Great Lakes region,” the department said.

A visit to Kigali will finish out the trip, with Blinken hoping to help reduce tensions between Rwanda and neighboring DR Congo there as well. Among other human rights concerns, he is expected to appeal the wrongful detention case of U.S. resident Paul Rusesabagina.

The following is the PRESS STATEMENT from the US DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON on JULY 29, 2022

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will travel to Cambodia, the Philippines, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda August 2-11, 2022.

Secretary Blinken will first travel to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, August 3-5 to participate in the U.S.-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, and the ASEAN Regional Forum.  At each ministerial, the Secretary will emphasize the United States’ commitment to ASEAN centrality and successful implementation of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.  He will also address the COVID-19 pandemic, economic cooperation, the fight against climate change, the crisis in Burma, and Russia’s war in Ukraine.  The Secretary will meet bilaterally with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn to discuss U.S. support for ASEAN and efforts to strengthen our bilateral relationship with Cambodia.  Secretary Blinken will also engage with alumni of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative.

In Manila, the Philippines, on August 6, the Secretary will meet with President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo to discuss bilateral efforts to strengthen the U.S.-Philippines alliance, including through increased cooperation on energy, trade, and investment, advancing our shared democratic values, and pandemic recovery.

Then, Secretary Blinken will travel to South Africa August 7-9.  The Secretary will launch the U.S. Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa, which reinforces the U.S. view that African countries are geostrategic players and critical partners on the most pressing issues of our day, from promoting an open and stable international system, to tackling the effects of climate change, food insecurity and global pandemics, to shaping our technological and economic futures.

In Pretoria, he will lead the U.S. delegation to the U.S.-South Africa Strategic Dialogue to reinforce and deepen our commitment to bilateral cooperation on global issues as well as a wide range of shared priorities, including health, infrastructure, trade and investment, and climate.  In Johannesburg, he will join in the South African celebration of National Women’s Day.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo on August 9-10, the Secretary will meet with senior DRC government officials and members of civil society to discuss our mutual interest in ensuring free, inclusive, and fair elections in 2023, promoting respect for human rights and protecting fundamental freedoms.  He will also focus on combating corruption, supporting trade and investment, addressing the climate crisis, building agricultural resilience, and support regional African efforts to advance peace in eastern DRC and the broader Great Lakes region.

Finally, the Secretary will travel to Rwanda on August 10-11, where he will meet with senior Rwandan government officials and civil society members to discuss shared priorities, including peacekeeping.  The Secretary will focus on the role the government of Rwanda can play in reducing tensions and ongoing violence in eastern DRCHe will also raise democracy and human rights concerns, including transnational repression, limiting space for dissent and political opposition, and the wrongful detention of U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident Paul Rusesabagina.

Antony Blinken

sources: VOA

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