US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Nigeria, his second stop in Africa
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Nigeria on Thursday and held meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari and Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama.
Blinkin’s visit to Abuja was his second stop on a three-country tour of sub-Saharan Africa that began in Nairobi, Kenya and will end in Dakar, Senegal.
In a joint news conference with Onyeama, Blinken said the US supports Nigeria’s “engagement, leadership and strong voice”.
Blinken was asked about US-China competition over infrastructure investment on the continent, where China has grown its influence in recent years through such investments.
Blinken said investment from China in Africa was in principle a good thing, but that countries should not be left with "tremendous debt that they cannot repay", adding that workers rights, environmental protections and safeguards against corruption should also be in place.
Nigeria, the most populous country and largest economy in Africa, has long been plagued by rampant corruption.
In Kenya on Wednesday, Blinken met President Uhuru Kenyatta
and discussed the spiralling conflict in Ethiopia as well as the military
takeover in Sudan.
Blinken's African tour is partially aimed at raising America's profile as a key player in the region as it competes with China.
Washington has identified China as the paramount US challenge of the 21st century with Beijing's rapid growth and rising assertiveness at home and abroad.
The United States and Europe have had little success in regaining their influence in Africa after centuries of colonialism, slavery, and exploitation in the region.