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Tillerson Heads to Africa with Explaining to Do for Trump

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As far as Africa is concerned, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the Trump administration have some explaining to do.

Rex Tillerson

US President Donald Trump's description of "shithole countries" in January was greeted with a mix of horror and outrage in Africa, where many don't know what to think about Trump - or what he thinks of them. He's rarely spoken about priorities for the continent, which garnered a mere seven paragraphs on the very last pages of Trump's National Security Strategy.

It falls to Tillerson to try to mend the damage as he travels to the continent on Tuesday, becoming the most senior US official to set foot there since Trump took office more than a year ago.

Tillerson, in a speech laying out the administration's Africa policy, said the continent's rapid economic growth and fast-rising populations mean its future is increasingly linked to America's.

He further claimed that the US was committed to helping, but that prosperity and basic stability would be impossible until the security situation is brought under control.

Making Tillerson's job harder, he's showing up on the continent with few concrete goals or new actions to announce. As one senior State Department official briefing reporters on condition of anonymity put it: "There's really no deliverables."

However, Trump hasn't announced a signature initiative to help the continent, such as the PEPFAR program for HIV/AIDS that George W. Bush started, and many of his sweeping budget cuts affect overseas programs that disproportionately help Africa.

Meanwhile, Tillerson announced Tuesday an additional $533 million in humanitarian assistance to help with famine and conflict-related needs in Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria, but it was unclear exactly where the money would come from.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team