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President Biden plans a visit to Angola—a new chapter in U.S.-Africa relations?

President Joe Biden has confirmed plans to visit Angola during an Oval Office meeting with Angolan President Joao Lourenco, although the exact date of the visit is undecided. The visit to Angola, where potential collaboration on solar energy and infrastructure is expected, signals renewed U.S. engagement with Africa amidst numerous global challenges. President Biden emphasized the strategic significance of Africa, and particularly Angola, in his foreign policy.

As President Biden visits Angola, U.S. engagement with Africa may resume.

WASHINGTON, Nov 30 – President Joe Biden declared his intention to visit Angola during an Oval Office meeting with Angolan President Joao Lourenco. Biden remarked, “I have been there, and I will be back,” signaling a potential resurgence of U.S. involvement with Africa amid ongoing global challenges.

The specific date for the visit was not disclosed during the meeting, and the White House has yet to provide additional details in response to inquiries, according to a report by Reuters.

As President Biden gears up for re-election next year and grapples with various foreign policy challenges, including those in Ukraine and Israel, the absence of a visit to the African continent has drawn attention. Despite acknowledging the continent’s significance on global issues, Biden’s visit to Africa has been notably awaited.

U.S. President Joe Biden meets with Angola’s President Joao Manuel Goncalves Lourenco in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 30, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

During the Oval Office meeting with President Lourenco, the leaders were expected to engage in discussions on collaboration and investment in critical areas such as solar energy, infrastructure development, and space. These areas are identified by the Biden administration as key arenas where the U.S. is in competition with China and seeks to counter Russian influence.

As part of the visit, Angola was anticipated to agree to the Artemis Accords, a pact designed to shape the rules for space exploration. Angola’s space program, which has received support from Russia, has positioned the country as a notable player in space-related initiatives.

The United States has been actively supporting a project that links the resource-rich Democratic Republic of Congo to the port of Lobito in Angola. This rail project aims to bypass road congestion and avoid delays on the copper and cobalt route, showcasing the U.S.’s commitment to infrastructure development in the region.

President Biden emphasized the importance of Africa, stating, “Africa: 1 billion people. Critically important. No country more important than Angola,” underscoring the significance of the visit.

In a similar vein, last December, Biden expressed eagerness to visit the continent during a Washington summit of African leaders, stating, “I’m looking forward to seeing many of you in your home countries.”

While President Biden briefly attended a climate conference in Egypt last year, it’s noteworthy that Vice President Kamala Harris embarked on a week-long trip to Africa in March. During her visit to Ghana, Tanzania, and Zambia, Harris pledged $500 million to boost infrastructure, transportation, digital technology, and clean energy, reinforcing diplomatic and economic ties on the continent.

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