Tillerson cuts short Africa trip to return to Washington

Rex Tillerson [Photo: The New Yorker]

The U. S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has cut short his first trip to Africa to return to Washington about one day ahead of schedule to deal with urgent work there.

Tillerson’s travel plans have changed so that he can return to Washington early on Tuesday morning instead of late that night, a spokesman for the top U.S. diplomat told reporters traveling with him.

The secretary departed the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on Monday morning.

He will visit Chad and Nigeria, both oil-producers struggling to contain the Islamist Boko Haram insurgency, on Monday afternoon and evening.

Instead of spending Monday night in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, before flying back to Washington, Tillerson’s spokesman said the secretary had changed his schedule so that he would spend only a few hours in Nigeria before leaving late in the evening to fly home.

On Saturday while visiting Nairobi, Tillerson, 65, canceled his scheduled events because he had been feeling unwell.

Tillerson’s week-long, five-country visit to Africa has come amid other urgent foreign policy developments, including Thursday’s announcement that U.S. President Donald Trump will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

NAN reports that Tillerson’s visit to the Horn of Africa just days after he announced a new $533m aid package for Africa out of which 128 million dollars was earmarked for Nigeria and countries of the Lake Chad region.

When Tillerson meets Buhari, both men are expected to discuss counter-terrorism efforts and humanitarian issues in Nigeria’s North-East and the Lake Chad basin.

He is also expected to discuss how to advance peace and security, promote good governance, and spur mutually beneficial trade and investment with the president.

During his trip, he is expected also to meet with the U.S. Embassy personnel and participate in events related to U.S. government-supported activities. (Reuters/NAN)

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