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Biden meets Angolan leader as US aims to counter China in Africa

By AFP
Angola US President Joe Biden (R) shakes hands with Angolan President Joao Lourenco during a meeting in the White House, where Biden said the United States is 'all in on Africa'.  By ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS (AFP)
FRI, 01 DEC 2023 LISTEN
US President Joe Biden (R) shakes hands with Angolan President Joao Lourenco during a meeting in the White House, where Biden said the United States is 'all in on Africa'. By ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS (AFP)

President Joe Biden and his Angolan counterpart Joao Lourenco met at the White House on Thursday to discuss infrastructure and regional security, as the United States seeks to counter China's growing influence in Africa.

"America is all in on Africa," Biden said during a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office.

"Simply put, a partnership between Angola and America is more important and more impactful," he added.

China is making major inroads with infrastructure, investment, loans and other drives to enhance its presence on the continent.

Biden highlighted major US investment in the large African infrastructure project known as the Lobito corridor, a railway serving as a trade route connecting mineral-rich inland areas in Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia with Angola's Atlantic coast seaport Lobito.

"I am excited to build the Lobito economic corridor," Biden said, calling it "the biggest US rail investment in Africa ever."

This year the United States poured a billion dollars in the project, according to the White House.

Lourenco for his part thanked Biden "for having been the first US president to change the cooperation paradigm between the US and the African continent."

Biden had previously promised to visit Africa this year, but no plans have been announced with just a month left in 2023.

Asked about the seeming likelihood of failing to meet the pledge, a senior White House official said Thursday he had no presidential travel plans to announce.

The official said during a briefing with reporters that the meeting between the two leaders "caps off a truly historic year of engagement and partnership with Angola," with which the United States is marking 30 years of diplomatic ties.

One of the few concrete results from the meeting is Angola's signing of the so-called Artemis Accords -- a multilateral framework launched by the United States to avoid conflicts in space exploration. Angola is be the third African country to join the accord.

Speaking before the meeting, the senior official said the two leaders were to "review the progress we've made today, and set a course for how we continue to deepen and expand this important partnership."

Washington has also worked closely with Angola on regional issues such as the conflict in the eastern part of the DRC and a series of coups in western Africa, the official said.

"I know both of our governments are concerned about the numbers of coups d'etat in the region. And so I suspect that that will be a topic of conversation," the official said before the talks.

If Biden travels to Africa during his term, as he pledged in a December 2022 summit with 49 African heads of state or government, he would become the first US president to visit the continent since 2015, when Barack Obama went to Kenya and Ethiopia.

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Started: 02-07-2024 | Ends: 31-10-2024

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