Washington, DC — Three days before an assembly of African heads-of-state and government that begins this weekend in Addis Ababa, the White House sent a letter from President Trump expressing "best wishes for a successful Summit."
The letter, a copy of which was obtained by AllAfrica, comes at a sensitive moment in U.S.-African relations, following reported comments by Trump referring to "shithole" countries in Africa. Trump has denied using that language.
"The United States profoundly respects the partnerships and values we share with the African Union, member states, and citizens across continent," Trump says in the letter dated January 25, "I want to underscore that the United States deeply respects the people of Africa. and my commitment to strong and respectful relationships with Africa states as sovereign nations is firm."
In his letter, which has not been published on the White House web site., Trump offers a "salute" to the leadership of Chairperson Moussa Faki and congratulated Rwanda President Paul Kagame on his assumption of the chair of the AU Assembly.
Trump and Kagame met at World Economic Forum in Davos on Friday to discuss "the partnership between the United States and African nations on economic growth and improved security," according to a White House statement.
In his letter, Trump said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will travel to Africa on an "extended visit in March."
Full Text of President Trump's Letter to African Union Leaders
I offer my deepest compliments as you gather in Addis Ababa for the 30th African Union Summit. I salute the leadership of Chairperson Moussa Faki in working to transform the Union into an increasingly effective institution to advance economic prosperity, strengthen peace and security and deliver positive outcomes for Africa and the broader international community.
I congratulate His Excellency Paul Kagame on his succession as Chairman of the Assembly and thank His Excellency Alpha Conde for his service.
The United States profoundly respects the partnerships and values we share with the African Union, member states, and citizens across continent. I want to underscore that the United States deeply respects the people of Africa. and my commitment to strong and respectful relationships with Africa states as sovereign nations is firm. Our soldiers are fighting side by side to defeat terrorists and build secure communities. We are working together to increase free, fair and reciprocal trade between the United States and African countries, and partnering to improve transportation security and safeguard legal immigration.
The challenges and opportunities this summit will address - advancing trade and development, resolving armed conflicts. and combatting corruption, among many others - are critical to the future of the African continent. and you can rely upon America's partnership and support for the African Union's leadership on these issues.
In the coming year. I look forward to building on relationships established during the African Leaders' Lunch during the United Nation's General Assembly, the Africa Ministerial in Washington, and engagements of Ambassador Nikki Haley, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and my Ambassadors throughout the continent. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will travel to Africa for an extended visit in March, and I look forward to welcoming many of you to the White House.
Please accept my greetings, highest regards, and best wishes for a successful Summit.