Biden strikes new tone on U.S.-Africa relations


President Joe Biden (file photo)

In a message delivered by video to African leaders meeting virtually this weekend in the context of the African Union annual summit, President Biden struck a tone that departs sharply from four years of the Trump administration. In this his first speech to an international forum as president, Biden states: “The United States stands ready now to be your partner in solidarity, support and mutual respect.”

The president began his remarks by stating his belief in multilateralism:

“This past year has shown us how interconnected our world is and how our fates are bound up together. That’s why my administration is committing to rebuilding our partnership around the world and re-engaging the international institutions like the African Union.”

Mr. Biden then talked about a “shared vision of a better future” by working with Africa:

“We must all work together to advance our shared vision of a better future; a future of growing trade and investment that advances prosperity for all our nations; a future that advances lives and peace and security for all our citizens; a future committed to investing in our democratic institutions and promoting the human rights of all people: women and girls, LGBTQ individuals, people with disabilities, and people of every ethnic background, religion and heritage.”

The multiple tracks of President Biden’s envisioned partnership with Africa include investing in global health to defeat “Covid-19 and working to prevent, detect and respond to future health crises, and partnering with the African CDC and other institutions to advance health security.” Climate change is another area of interest to the president who recognizes again—as he had in previous pronouncements—the impact of climate change especially on developing nations. Biden states his administration’s plan to engage “in sustained diplomacy in connection with the African Union, to address conflicts that are costing lives all across the African continent.”