United States Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Molly Phee has given an insight into what Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will discuss with President Bola Tinubu in Nigeria next week.

Phee spoke at a teleconference.

The Secretary is also visiting Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire and Angola.He said the internal security challenges in Nigeria will be a major talking point between Blinken and Tinubu.

The U.S., he said, has had a longstanding security partnership with Nigeria, which has been battered by ISIS-WA, Boko Haram and bandits.

“We can never get away, though, from peace and security issues. So, when we are in Cote d’Ivoire, we’ll talk about the situation in the Sahel and coastal West Africa.

“As many of you know, Nigeria is dealing with a lot of internal security challenges. And Angola has played a really important role in trying to address and reduce the tensions in the eastern Congo.

“So those will also be topics I expect we’ll discuss,” Phee said.The talks in Nigeria, he said, will also include artificial intelligence, an African seat on the Security Council, and Security Council reform. “So, there’s a lot to discuss, a lot of work we do together on the continent and globally, and that’s going to be the focus of the trip,” Phee said.He added that the visit was a follow-up to last year’s U.S Africa Leaders Summit.Phee said: “It’s in part a follow-up to the very successful U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit that we held in December 2022.

“The Secretary wants to go to the continent and demonstrate and assess the follow-up that the United States has undertaken to implement the commitments and topics we discussed during the summit.

“So, we’ll be looking at issues like our economic partnership, how are we promoting the development of commercial ties?

“We’ll be looking at our longstanding health partnership. We’re looking at areas that really excite the Secretary, particularly in food security.

“We’ll be, of course, sort of furbishing our diplomatic constant engagement on so many issues, not only on the continent but in the global conversation.

“So, there’s a lot to do to show where we are, what we’ve done, and where we’re going.

“We think this trip will hopefully be very positive. A lot of times, the news out of Africa is negative.

“I think it can highlight the great capacity of the African people, particularly the youth.

“It can show really forward-looking types of engagements – for example, our partnership with Angola in outer space.

“And I think it will demonstrate the advances that Africans have made that will contribute to the continued progress on the continent.

”On the military bombing in Kaduna, Phee said: “I wouldn’t call it an attack. The Nigerians have admitted it was an operational error that tragically killed people in Kaduna State.

“I think the Secretary will definitely talk about that with the president.

“The president and the leadership of Nigeria went to Kaduna State. They acted with transparency, immediately acknowledged the horrific accident.

“They set up a reparation process and a transparent investigation. So, they have, I think, responded to that tragedy in a constructive way that will contribute to rebuilding confidence of the Nigerian people and the security services.

“And these issues of how to protect civilians when doing complex operations in a fraught security environment, which Nigeria is dealing with, the importance of promoting and protecting human rights, including religious freedom, and, again, sort of the best practices of accountability and transparency, are part of our ongoing dialogue with the government and with the security services.

“We host – we are hosting this week a Nigerian delegation led by the national security adviser, and we hosted about four hours of discussions here at the State Department yesterday, and that was a running theme throughout the day.

“So, I’m certain the Secretary will talk about it when he sees the president and the foreign minister.”

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