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PoliticsSouth Africa

Blinken lands in S. Africa at start of Africa tour

August 7, 2022

The visit of the top US diplomat is seen as an attempt to counter Moscow's influence on the African continent. It comes on the heels of an Africa tour by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Antony Blinken (center left) and Antoinette Sithole, the sister of the late Hector Pieterson, tour the Hector Pieterson Memorial
Blinken visited a memorial for a protester who was gunned down by police under the brutal apartheid regime in 1976Image: Andrew Harnik/AFP

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in South Africa on Sunday, kicking off a three-nation tour of Africa.

His visit comes as the West and Russia vie for support from African countries over the war in Ukraine.

South Africa has maintained a neutral stance on the war and has refrained from joining Western countries in publicly condemning Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

What is on Blinken's agenda?

On Sunday, Blinken visited the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto township, which commemorates the 170 school students killed during an anti-apartheid uprising in 1976. 

The secretary of state is expected to hold talks with his South African counterpart, Naledi Pandor, on Monday, before outlining the United States' strategies for sub-Saharan Africa in a major policy speech at the University of Pretoria.

Blinken and Pandor will "discuss ongoing and recent developments relating to the global geopolitical situation," a South African government statement said.

Africa has been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic as well as rising food and fuel prices triggered by Moscow's war on Ukraine.

Blinken is also scheduled to visit Congo and Rwanda later in the week. It is his second trip to the continent since his appointment early last year and follows recent Africa tours by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and French President Emmanuel Macron.

nm/fb (AP, AFP)

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