Tillerson to Return to Washington over Urgent Matters

Tillerson to Return to Washington over Urgent Matters

Monday, 12 March, 2018 - 12:45
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives to begin a six-day trip in Africa, landing at Addis Ababa International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 7, 2018. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Asharq Al-Awsat
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will cut short his first diplomatic trip to Africa on Monday to return to deal with urgent work in Washington, his spokesman said.

The top US diplomat will now spend just a few hours in key ally Nigeria on Monday evening rather than the overnight visit originally planned.

"Due to demands in the Secretary's schedule, he is returning to the US one day early after concluding official meetings in Chad and Nigeria," Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein told reporters.

Tillerson's week-long, five-country tour coincided with several urgent foreign policy developments, including Thursday's announcement that US President Donald Trump will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Tillerson has not commented substantively on the North Korea talks.

His trip to Africa has also been plagued by ill health. Tillerson, 65, canceled some events in Kenya on Saturday, saying he was feeling unwell.

Tillerson was in Chad on Monday for talks with President Idriss Deby, an important American ally whose military is battling al-Qaeda and ISIS-affiliated groups in the Sahel region.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Chad's Foreign Minister Mahamat Zene Cherif in the country's capital, N'Djamena, Tillerson was hopeful that Chad could be removed from the Trump administration's travel restriction list.

He will next visit Nigeria before flying home later Monday. Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer whose security forces are battling Boko Haram militants in the northeast.

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