U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is planning to visit four African countries as the Biden administration tries to keep its eyes on all corners of the world while being consumed by crises in Ukraine, the Mideast and the Red Sea.
The State Department announced on Thursday that Blinken will go to Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Angola starting Sunday for talks focused on regional security, conflict prevention, democracy promotion and trade.
Nigeria is West Africa’s regional heavyweight and plays a major role in security issues, especially those involving Islamic extremist violence in the Sahel, the vast arid expanse south of the Sahara Desert.
The trip will be his third overseas mission in the new year. He returned from a Gaza-focused, weeklong 10-nation trip to the Middle East last Thursday and a three-day trip to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland on Wednesday.
Blinken’s Africa trip comes as the United States is increasingly nervous about its relationships on the continent, particularly after coups last year in Niger and Gabon, and escalating unrest in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In addition, the U.S. and China are in a battle for influence throughout Africa. That topic will likely top his agenda in Angola, which China has targeted for significant investment.
Blinken will highlight the administration’s partnership with African nations on issues such as the climate, economic investment, food and health, department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.
While in Ivory Coast, Blinken may attend an Africa Cup of Nations soccer match between the host country and Equatorial Guinea.