Tillerson: Security, health remain U.S. priorities in Africa
United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that African nations will continue to receive attention and support from the U.S., particularly in the fight against terrorism.
“The continent of Africa is so important,” Tillerson said in remarks to state department employees. “From a national security view, we cannot let Africa become the next breeding ground for a re-emergence of a caliphate for ISIS. We also cannot allow the terrorist networks that weave their way through Africa to continue unabated.”
Tillerson told department employees that “you can connect the dots between countries throughout the central part of Africa and the northern part of Africa where the terrorist networks are connected.”
Those networks need to be disrupted, he said, noting that the more narrow U.S. focus on North Africa in relation to the Middle East will need to be broadened to a more comprehensive continental approach.
Yet the continent is one of “enormous opportunity” whose governments also will continue to receive U.S. development support.
Tillerson’s remarks also focused on Africa and its potential economic and trading opportunities, while emphasizing continued concern for the continent’s health challenges.
“Africa still struggles with huge health challenges,” he said, “and those are important to us, and they’re going to continue to get our attention.”
The secretary’s remarks come as the U.S. under President Donald Trump plans deep budget cuts to the Department of State, USAID and other foreign-aid programs.
An overall 30.8 percent reduction would impact many African nations, with funding for some programs – development assistance in Mali and Niger, global health programs from Lesotho to Liberia – eliminated entirely.
Image: U.S. Department of State