US President Donald Trump has told African leaders meeting in Addis Ababa that the US “profoundly respects” its partnership with the continent.
Trump also plans to send his top diplomat Rex Tillerson to Africa in March.
In a letter addressed to the African Union, Trump expressed his “deepest compliments” to all the leaders gathered for 55th AU summit in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.
Trump’s letter, which has not been made public, was confirmed by two US officials, including Chris Meade, top US diplomat to the AU delegation. In the letter, Trump acknowledged that US troops are fighting terrorism “side by side” with their African counterparts . He also said the US is seeking to increase “free, fair and reciprocal trade” with Africa.
The US State Department has sought to calm the fury of African leaders after Trump infamously compared African countries to a s***hole during a bipartisan congressional meeting on US immigration reforms.
He, however, took to Twitter and denied using the slur, saying he had used “tough language” to describe migrants from Haiti, El Salvador and Africa, but nothing like what had been reported.
His controversial remark sharply divided opinions in Africa, with many leaders demanding an apology from Trump. However, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni this week said that he likes President Trump and that the US President deserves praise for openly speaking his mind.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni says he admires Trump’s sincerity. Reacting on DW’s Africa Facebook page to Trump’s latest attempt to contain the diplomatic spat, Ladu Samson from South Sudan said:
“Trump respects Africa and that is why he is always frank. The derogatory statement is a wake up call!” Nigerian Nnamdi Anene said he believes the US respects Africa but Trump doesn’t.
According to Trump’s letter to the AU, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is set to visit four to six African countries in March. This will be Tillerson’s first visit to the continent as America’s top envoy.
Observers are keen to see how he will handle the concerns in most parts of Africa over Trump’s plan to deeply cut US foreign aid and reduce the US contribution to UN peacekeeping missions such as MONUSCO in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In a rare meeting on Friday, Trump called Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who is also the African Union chairperson, “a friend” at the just concluded World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.