Africa: Blinken Africa Revisit Focuses on Ending Conflicts in the Horn and Sahel

Washington DC – The Ethiopia and Niger trip is the latest top-level administration trip to Africa, after VP Harris is expected to

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will visit Addis Ababa on March 14 and 15 to hold talks with the Ethiopian government and leaders of Tigrayan forces to discuss the fragile peace process. The two-year conflict has claimed thousands of lives.

The trip includes a stop in Niger and is one of a series of visits to Africa by top-level administration officials this year. Vice President Kamala Harris is likely to be next. Her visit is expected to focus on women and technology in Tanzania and Ghana.

While in Addis, Blinken plans to see African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat “to discuss shared global and regional priorities,” the State Department said in a statement. statement Adding: “Their meeting will follow commitments from the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit held in Washington DC in December in the areas of food security, climate and a just energy transition, the African diaspora and global health.”

Blinken’s March 16 trip to Niger will be the first by a US Secretary of State. While in the capital Niamey, he will discuss security cooperation with President Mohamed Bazoum and Foreign Minister Hassoumi Massadou.

Administrative visits to Africa this year include First Lady Jill Biden to Namibia and Kenya, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to Senegal, Zambia and South Africa, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, UN Ambassador to Ghana, Mozambique, Kenya and Somalia.

In the lead-up to Blinken’s discussions in Addis, administration officials are debating whether to ease restrictions imposed since the war in Tigray began in late 2021. These include Restrictions on selected Ethiopian and Eritrean officialstrade border and suspension of Ethiopia From the benefits provided by the African Development and Opportunity Act.

The proposed easing “has drawn backlash from human rights advocates and some factions within the administration,” Robbie Grammer said in a report. March 9 story for Foreign Policy, Grammer says among those advocating for “starting to normalize relations again” are Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Mollie Fee and Undersecretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland. They argue that “the administration needs to extract more commitments from the Ethiopian government on human rights and accountability for war crimes and other atrocities before agreeing to fully open access to the economic and trade lifeline” which includes the USAID Administrator. Samantha Power is involved, he writes.

Blinken could use the talks, which are expected to include Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and other top officials, to extract concessions in exchange for better relations. “What Addis is looking for is whether Washington is willing to say, enough has been done and we can normalize bilateral relations – and that means by resuming international debt aid and helping with the country’s growing debt crisis.” The financial spigot has to be turned on,” said Cameron Hudson, an Africa specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. visa on arrival,