The United States wants a true partnership with Africa, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said August 8 in South Africa, the first leg of his three-country African tour, seen as an attempt to counter efforts of Russia to increase its influence on the continent.
Antony Blinken arrived in South Africa on August 7, just weeks after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov concluded a four-country tour to garner more support from African nations.
Antony Blinken, who will also travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, said the end result of “the United States’ approach is our relationship with Africa”.
“We don’t force countries to choose, we offer positive choices,” Antony Blinken said at a joint press briefing with his South African counterpart Naledi Pandor in Pretoria.
South Africa, the United States’ largest trading partner in Africa, has remained neutral in the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, refusing to join Washington and other Western countries in condemning Moscow.
Without naming any, Antony Blinken said some African countries were “forced to side with Russia due to the lack of an alternative”.
Russian private security group Wagner is engaged in operations in several African countries embroiled in conflict, while Moscow is also a key arms supplier to many nations on the continent.
Antony Blinken said the United States values its relationship with South Africa.
South Africa, as a member of the G20, has a global voice and its actions have global implications, he stressed.
He added that South Africa’s work on global climate change and its efforts on regional security and other issues are also important.
US, South Africa welcome truce in Gaza
Antony Blinken and Naledi Pandor both welcomed the ceasefire implemented after days of Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip that left at least 44 Palestinian civilians dead and more than 360 injured.
“The United States welcomes the ceasefire that restores calm to Gaza and Israel. We are grateful to those who mediated to reach this agreement,” said the head of American diplomacy.
“We will continue to promote calm and remain committed to Israel’s security,” he added.
The South African foreign minister also welcomed the truce, but expressed concern about the loss of life and property suffered by Palestinians.
“We call on the world to ensure peace,” Naledi Pandor said, reiterating that South Africa wants a two-state solution that allows Palestinians and Israelis to live together in peace.
Source : Anadolu Agency