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.


India celebrates Republic Day with military parade

Updated 26 January 2020

India celebrates Republic Day with military parade

  • Schoolchildren, folk dancers, and police and military battalions marched through New Delhi’s parade route

NEW DELHI: Thousands of Indians converged on a ceremonial boulevard in the capital amid tight security to celebrate the Republic Day on Sunday, which marks the 1950 anniversary of the country’s democratic constitution.
During the celebrations, schoolchildren, folk dancers, and police and military battalions marched through New Delhi’s parade route, followed by a military hardware display.
Beyond the show of military power, the parade also included ornate floats highlighting India’s cultural diversity as men, women and children in colorful dresses performed traditional dances, drawing applause from the spectators.
The 90-minute event, broadcast live, was watched by millions of Indians on their television sets across the country.
Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro was the chief guest for this year’s celebrations.
He was accorded the ceremonial Guard of Honor by President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Rashtrapati Bhawan, the sprawling presidential palace.
Bolsonaro joined the two Indian leaders as the military parade marched through a central avenue near the Presidential Palace.
At the parade, Bolsonaro watched keenly as mechanized columns of Indian tanks, rocket launchers, locally made nuclear-capable missile systems and other hardware rolled down the parade route and air force jets sped by overhead.
Apart from attending the Republic Day celebrations, Bolsonaro’s visit was also aimed at strengthening trade and investment ties across a range of fields between the two countries.
On Saturday, Modi and Bolsonaro reached an agreement to promote investment in each other’s country.
Before the parade, Modi paid homage to fallen soldiers at the newly built National War Memorial in New Delhi as the national capital was put under tight security cover.
Smaller parades were also held in the state capitals.
Police said five grenades were lobbed in the eastern Assam state by separatist militants who have routinely boycotted the Republic Day celebrations. No one was injured, police said.
Sunday’s blasts also come at a time when Assam has been witnessing continuous protests against the new citizenship law that have spread to many Indian states.
The law approved in December provides a fast-track to naturalization for persecuted religious minorities from some neighboring Islamic countries, but excludes Muslims.
Nationwide protests have brought tens of thousands of people from different faiths and backgrounds together, in part because the law is seen by critics as part of a larger threat to the secular fabric of Indian society.