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Antony Blinken meets South Africa leader Cyril Ramaphosa, heads to Congo

The cordial meeting did not mask the differences between the U.S. and South Africa over Russia's war in Ukraine.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa at Waterkloof Airforce Base in Centurion, South Africa, August 9, 2022. (Reuters)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and marked the country’s Women’s Day holiday, before embarking on a flight to Congo to continue his three-nation tour of Africa.

Blinken met with Ramaphosa Tuesday morning for brief talks that also included South Africa’s International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor. The cordial meeting did not mask the differences between the U.S. and South Africa over Russia’s war in Ukraine.

South Africa has remained neutral on the war and refused to criticize Russia for its invasion of Ukraine or conduct in the conflict.

Blinken also paid tribute to South Africa’s Women’s Day holiday, marking the day in 1956 when women of all races marched to the capital, Pretoria, to protest apartheid, the country’s regime of oppression of the Black majority which did not end until 1994.

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Blinken attended a Women’s Day event at the South African Medical Research Council in Pretoria. The U.S. top diplomat then took off on a flight to Congo, the next stop on his three-nation tour of Africa that will also take him to Rwanda.

While in South Africa Blinken launched the United States’ new strategy for engaging with the countries of sub-Saharan Africa. Outlining the strategy in a speech in Pretoria on Monday, he said it was rooted in recognizing sub-Saharan countries as equal partners and emphasized the region’s role as a “major geopolitical force.”

On his Africa tour, human rights groups have urged Blinken to promote free and fair elections, respect for human rights and anti-corruption efforts.

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Blinken is expected to encourage solutions to the violence in eastern Congo where attacks have increased by the M23 rebel group. Congo has accused Rwanda of supporting the M23 rebels.

His visit to Africa is seen by many as part of the contest between the Western powers and Russia for influence in Africa amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.

First published on: 09-08-2022 at 06:04:35 pm
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