Top US Diplomat Travels to Asia, Africa as Global Powers Fight for Influence

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken travels to East Asia and Africa subsequent week in search of to counter the affect of Russia and China in a combat for international affect.

Blinken begins his travels Tuesday on a tour that may take him to Cambodia, the Philippines, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.

During his first cease in Cambodia, he’ll attend a Southeast Asian regional safety discussion board the place each the Russian and Chinese overseas ministers are anticipated to be in attendance.

When requested if Blinken would maintain direct conferences with both Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov or Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink mentioned there have been no plans for formal conferences right now.

During a briefing with reporters about Blinken’s journey, Kritenbrink didn’t rule out the opportunity of a casual dialog between Blinken and Wang on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum in Cambodia.

Blinken spoke to Lavrov on Friday within the first dialog between the high-level officers since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February. Blinken pressed Lavrov to settle for a U.S. proposal to safe the discharge of two Americans detained in Russia —skilled basketball star Brittney Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan.

The State Department mentioned in an announcement Friday that Blinken will tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, local weather change, Myanmar and the conflict in Ukraine throughout the ASEAN ministers meeting.

Kritenbrink mentioned Blinken would urge Asian nations to improve stress on Myanmar after its authorities executed 4 activists this week.

“This is just the latest example of the regime’s brutality,” he mentioned.

While within the Philippines, the secretary’s subsequent cease, Kritenbrink mentioned Blinken would reaffirm the U.S. dedication to the 2 nations’ mutual protection treaty, which he referred to as “ironclad.”

Blinken then travels to Africa, a part of an elevated U.S. diplomatic effort within the area that follows Russia’s outreach to the continent.

USAID chief Samantha Power lately visited Kenya and Somalia, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield is planning to journey subsequent month to Ghana and Uganda.

The go to by Blinken is a part of the U.S. view that “African countries are geostrategic players and critical partners on the most pressing issues of our day,” in accordance to a State Department launch.

Each of the African nations Blinken is visiting — South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda — is a “significant player on the continent and on the globe,” in accordance to Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee.

She instructed reporters Friday the secretary will ship a speech on U.S. technique towards sub-Saharan Africa whereas in South Africa.

Russia’s conflict in Ukraine is anticipated to be a serious focus throughout Blinken’s stops in Africa.

In this handout picture launched by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks to Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, July 28, 2022.

Russia’s Lavrov this week wrapped up a tour of 4 African nations to strengthen ties with the continent and search help towards Western stress over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Most African nations have remained impartial on the Ukraine conflict, regardless of stress from Washington to condemn Russia’s invasion.

During his go to to the continent, Lavrov praised African nations for their independence.

Climate change might be one other necessary matter throughout Blinken’s tour of Africa, in accordance to Phee, who mentioned the secretary would press Congo on its plan to reopen its rain forest to industrial logging.

While in Rwanda, Blinken will elevate the “wrongful detention” of U.S. everlasting resident Paul Rusesabagina, in accordance to the State Department. Rusesabagina’s actions saved tons of of lives throughout the 1994 genocide and impressed the film Hotel Rwanda.

“We’ve been very clear with the government of Rwanda about our concerns about his case, his trial and his conviction, particularly the lack of fair trial guarantees in his case,” Phee mentioned.

She mentioned Blinken would additionally work to ease tensions between Congo and Rwanda. Congo has accused its neighbor of backing M23 rebels, a cost Kigali denies.

Some info on this report got here from The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.

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