President Biden on Thursday said he will be visiting sub-Saharan Africa during his presidency, while addressing leaders during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.
“I’m grateful that all of you have made the journey to Washington for this summit, and I’m eager to visit your continent,” the president said. “I’m looking forward to seeing many of you in your home countries.”
He said the African leaders in Washington this week invited him to their countries and he joked about his travel there, quipping, “Be careful what you wish for, because I may show up.”
The president added that there will also be visits from other officials, including Vice President Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and first lady Jill Biden, among others.
“Promise you’ll send them back. I need them. They all want to go, but I’m worried they won’t come home,” Biden said. “All kidding aside, we’re all going to be seeing you and you’re going to see a lot of us, because we’re deadly earnest and serious about this endeavor.”
Biden has visited Europe and Asia, which included a quick stop in Egypt, since becoming president, but an extended trip to Africa would be his first to the continent.
Presidents George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama all visited Africa during their tenures. Former President Trump did not, but he stopped international travel for the last 11 months of his presidency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The U.S. this week is hosting the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit for the first time since 2014. The summit in Washington includes 50 leaders from Africa and seeks to bolster future relations with the continent and counter Chinese and Russian influence.
Biden discussed with leaders on Thursday some deliverables out of the summit, including that he will name Ambassador Johnnie Carson, who has held ambassadorships to Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Uganda, to be the new special representative for U.S. Africa Leaders Summit implementation.
The U.S. is also committing $55 billion to Africa over the next three years, which includes $350 million to facilitate Africa’s participation in the digital economy and $75 million to strengthen transparent governance, facilitate voter registration and support constitutional reform.
Source: The Hill