Trump letter to African leaders: Tillerson to make first visit

President Donald Trump wrote in a new letter to African leaders that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will make an “extended visit” to the continent in March. (AFP)
Updated 27 January 2018

Trump letter to African leaders: Tillerson to make first visit

ADDIS ABABA: President Donald Trump in a new letter to African leaders says he “deeply respects” the people of Africa and that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will make an “extended visit” to the continent in March, his first in that role.
The letter dated Thursday is addressed to African leaders as they gather for an African Union summit this weekend in Ethiopia’s capital.
US diplomats have scrambled for days to address shock and condemnation after Trump’s reported comparison of African nations to a dirty toilet. Trump has said he didn’t use such language, while others present say he did.
Many in Africa were taken aback by the comments after nearly a year of little attention to Africa by the Trump administration. Concerns have been widespread over proposed deep cuts to US foreign aid and a shift from humanitarian assistance to counterterrorism.
On Friday, Trump met with Rwanda’s president and new African Union chair Paul Kagame at the World Economic Forum, calling Kagame a “friend.”
The 55-nation continental body’s summit is expected to respond to Trump’s vulgar remark. An AU spokeswoman has said the organization was “frankly alarmed” by the comments, and a number of African nations have spoken out or summoned US diplomats to explain.
Trump’s letter, seen by The Associated Press and confirmed by two US officials, says the US “profoundly respects” the partnerships and values shared by the US and Africans and that the president’s commitment to strong relationships with African nations is “firm.”
The letter offers Trump’s “deepest compliments” to the African leaders as they gather. It notes that US soldiers are “fighting side by side” against extremism on the continent and that the US is working to increase “free, fair and reciprocal trade” with African countries and partnering to “safeguard legal immigration.”
The letter gives no details on Tillerson’s upcoming visit.


UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

Updated 55 min 37 sec ago

UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

  • Johnson said he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what
  • “The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the Mail

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has compared himself to The Incredible Hulk in a newspaper interview emphasizing his determination to take Britain out of the European Union next month.
Johnson faces considerable legal and political hurdles but told the Mail on Sunday he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what.
“The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the widely read tabloid, invoking the comic book and film character known for formidable but destructive strength.
Johnson remains defiant even though Parliament has passed a law requiring him to seek an extension to the deadline if no deal is reached by mid-October. He has also lost his working majority in Parliament and been told by Scotland’s highest court that his decision to suspend Parliament was illegal.
Johnson portrays himself as more convinced than ever that Britain will break with the EU at the end of October.
He will have a lunchtime meeting in Luxembourg on Monday with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to try to modify the Irish backstop that has been a main sticking point, but EU leaders did not seem impressed by Johnson’s invocation of the Hulk.
The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, said the comments showed a lack of maturity.
“Even to Trumpian standards the Hulk comparison is infantile,” he tweeted. “Is the EU supposed to be scared by this? The British public impressed?“
Juncker, who has downplayed hopes of a breakthrough at Monday’s meeting, also expressed alarm that many people in Britain seem to feel a British departure without a deal with the EU would be a positive thing.
“It would be terrible chaos,” he said in an interview with Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio. “And we would need years to put things back in order. Anyone who loves his country, and I assume that there are still patriots in Britain, would not want to wish his country such a fate.”
The Oct. 31 deadline looms large because Johnson has not said he will seek another extension if no deal is reached, despite legislation passed by Parliament shortly before it was suspended.
Britain’s Supreme Court this week will rule on whether Johnson overstepped the law when he shut the legislature for a crucial five-week period.
The Liberal Democrats, who have been enjoying a revival, voted overwhelmingly at their party conference Sunday to end the Brexit process entirely if they come to power.
Party leader Jo Swinson said Article 50, which triggered Brexit, would be revoked if she becomes prime minister.
The party gained an important member Saturday with the defection of Sam Gyimah, a former Conservative minister. He is the sixth legislator to switch allegiance and join the Liberal Democrats this year.
Johnson also continues to take flak from former Prime Minister David Cameron, who called the 2016 referendum on Brexit.
Cameron said in an interview published Sunday that Johnson didn’t really believe in Brexit when he broke ranks and led the campaign to take Britain out of the EU. Cameron had been expecting Johnson’s help during the hard-fought campaign.
Cameron says of Johnson: “The conclusion I am left with is that he risked an outcome he didn’t believe in because it would help his political career.”
Cameron is giving interviews to gain publicity for his upcoming memoirs.