June 6, 2023

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken arrived in South Africa on Sunday to begin his three-nation African tour.

Blinken’s visit to Africa is seen as part of a battle between Russia and Western powers for African states to support Ukraine’s war. Blinken’s trip to Africa follows recent visits by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and French President Emmanuel Macron.

South Africa is one of many African countries that have maintained a neutral stance on the war and have not publicly criticized Russia.

Arriving early Sunday morning, Blinken will visit the Hector Peterson Memorial in the town of Soweto, which commemorates a student killed in 1976 while protesting South Africa’s racial oppression, apartheid, which ended in 1994.

On Monday, Blinken will describe the U.S. strategy for sub-Saharan Africa in a major policy speech at the University of Pretoria. Africa has been hit hard by the global COVID-19 pandemic and rising food and oil prices due to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Blinken and Pandor will also hold a news conference on Monday, where the two countries’ differing positions on the Ukraine war are expected to be revealed.

Blinken will continue to visit Congo and Rwanda this week, wrapping up his international tour, which also took him to Cambodia and the Philippines.

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