The head of the African Union, President Macky Sall of Senegal, listed Africa’s priorities, including fighting terrorism, strengthening democracy and negotiating “a just and fair energy transition” with the West. He also called out the United States on two issues. He pushed for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe and criticized a US bill that seeks to curb illegal Russian activities in Africa, such as supporting mercenaries.
If passed, he warned, the law could “seriously damage Africa-US relations”.
In addition to planning his own trip to Africa, Mr. Biden also sent his wife, Jill Biden, along with Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other senior officials to the continent.
“Promise me you’ll send them back,” he said. “I need them. They all want to go, but I’m worried they won’t come home.”
If he conducts a visit, Mr. Biden would be the sixth president since the end of World War II to travel to sub-Saharan Africa during his tenure. George HW Bush flew to Somalia in his final weeks in office to visit American troops and international aid workers, while Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama made extended tours of the continent, all greeted by ebullient crowds. Mr Trump, who nicknamed African countries by nickname, never went there as President.
“America will not dictate Africa’s decisions. Neither should anyone else,” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said at a news conference Thursday at the conclusion of the summit. “The right to make these decisions belongs to Africans, and only to Africans. But we will work tirelessly to expand their choices.”
Analysts said the summit should be held every three years to achieve its stated goal of showing that the United States is “all in Africa,” as China is.