4 October 2018

Ghana: U.S. First Lady Continues Africa Goodwill Tour

U.S. first lady Melania Trump continues the first leg of her week-long tour of the African continent Wednesday -- her first major solo international trip since moving into the White House in 2017.

Mrs. Trump passed out blankets and teddy bears to newborn infants and their mothers at a hospital in Ghana's capital, Accra, shortly after her arrival Tuesday.

'Be Best' campaign

The first lady is using her visits to Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Egypt to further expand and promote her "Be Best" initiative that focuses on children's overall well-being.

Her goodwill tour comes several months after a public firestorm over President Donald Trump's reported use of a vulgar term to describe the continent, triggering accusations of racism.

"The trip by the first lady I think will show that Americans, American policy, and the administration are all multi-faceted and are considerably more than two or three tweets," John Campbell, a senior fellow for Africa policy studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, told VOA.

But Judd Devermont, Africa program director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says a more important factor will overshadow Melania Trump's visit to Africa.

"Given that this is in extraordinary times with the sense, that the President's not engaging on Africa and has disparaging views about the continent, I think it has an opportunity to have a positive effect," Devermont said. "The bigger question though is that it is taking place when there are questions about what the broader strategy is. And I think that's going to be difficult for the first lady"

US Aid cuts

The Trump administration called for significant cuts in humanitarian aid programs for Africa in its budget proposals, but those cuts were blocked by Congress.

Melania Trump's African itinerary also includes Malawi, Kenya and Egypt.

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