- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 15, 2022

President Biden announced Thursday that he intends to visit Africa soon as he seeks to boost U.S. ties to the region.

“I’m looking forward to seeing many of you in your home countries,” he said during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Biden did not provide a date for the trip or say which countries he will visit.

Vice President Kamala Harris, first lady Jill Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also will visit the continent, Mr. Biden said.

“Promise you’ll send them back. I need them. They’ll go, but I’m worried they won’t come home,” Mr. Biden joked.

The announcement is part of Mr. Biden‘s goal to improve America’s links to Africa to address the continent’s challenges and build security partnerships.

While Donald Trump was the first president since Ronald Reagan not to visit Africa, Russia and China made inroads on the continent. China has bolstered its trade relations with African nations and built infrastructure projects there. Russia has expanded its military presence in the region. Both have hosted their own Africa summits in recent years.

It was Mr. Biden‘s second speech in as many days at the summit, which was attended by the leaders of 49 African nations. Mr. Biden was to give closing remarks later Thursday.

A small group of African leaders also met with Mr. Biden at the White House on Wednesday to discuss the 2023 elections across the continent. That evening, he hosted some of the attendees for a White House dinner.

Mr. Biden also on Thursday called for the African Union to join the Group of 20 largest economies and urged the United Nations Security Council to give Africa a permanent seat.

The last U.S. president to travel to sub-Saharan Africa was Barack Obama, who visited Kenya and Ethiopia in 2015. Mr. Obama made four trips to the continent as president.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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