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Blinken begins Africa tour in Cape Verde, touting the US as a key security and economic partner

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken began a tour of four African countries on Monday, meeting with the leaders of Cape Verde and Ivory Coast and touting America as the continent's key economic and security ally at times of regional and international crises.

Blinken is visiting Nigeria and Angola next. The tour — which comes as deadly crises and rampant coups threaten the continent's stability — focuses on trade, security, and democracy promotion.

In Cape Verde's capital, Praia, he met with Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva and said the U.S. is committed “to deepening, strengthening, broadening” its partnerships with Africa whose young population of 1.3 billion is set to double by 2050 and make up a quarter of the world's inhabitants.

Analysts say Africa seems to have been pushed to the back burner under President Joe Biden as his administration is increasingly consumed by other international issues such as the fighting in Ukraine, the Israel-Hamas war, as well as its rivalry with China. Biden also failed to visit Africa last year as he promised.

“As President Biden has said, we are all in when it comes to Africa,” Blinken told the Cape Verdean leader. “We see Africa as an essential, critical, central part of our future. This trip … really does focus on President Biden’s commitment and conviction that the United States and Africa are joined in partnership for the future,” he added.

Silva described Cape Verde as “a longstanding and consistent partner” of the U.S. and said such a visit shows “the Biden administration’s genuine interest in win-win partnerships with Africa.”

“We would like to strengthen our partnership with the U.S. in maritime security and cyber security from a regional, global perspective,” said Silva.

Also Monday, Blinken flew to the Ivory Coast where he met President Alassane Ouattara and senior government officials. They discussed “shared priorities of strengthening democracy, expanding trade and improving local and regional security,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.

He also attended a soccer match between Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast, part of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

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Follow AP's Africa coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/africa