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Blinken commends Angola’s construction of Lobito rail corridor

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The United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, who is currently on an African tour, has commended the progress in the construction of the Lobito Corridor in Angola.

Blinken, during a visit to Angola on Thursday, hailed the project as a rail link key to metals exports from the central African Copper Belt.

The project, which connects the resource-rich Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Zambia to the port of Lobito in Angola, has received funding from the US in order to get around logistical obstacles in South Africa that have been impeding copper and cobalt exports.

“I had a chance today to see some of the dramatic progress that’s already been made in building out this corridor. It is moving faster and further, I think, than we might have imagined,” Blinken told a news conference, standing alongside Angolan Foreign Minister, Tete Antonio.

He said the United States had taken the initial steps to build out an additional 800 km of rail line and had pledged financing to renovate the current 1,300 km (800 miles) of rail service. According to Blinken, the corridor’s extension would protect vital supply networks for minerals and encourage investment in telecommunications, agriculture, and other sectors.

“We maintain the dream of linking the Atlantic and Indian Ocean through that specific corridor,” Antonio said.
Blinken praised Angolan President Joao Lourenco’s efforts to de-escalate tensions between Rwanda and the DRC and said he had talked to Lourenco about ways to “move the diplomatic track forward”.

The US is keen to reclaim its waning influence in the continent in order to highlight the significance of Africa and counter any risks China and Russia may pose to US interests in this crucial region.

Blinken’s four-nation tour of Africa has also included stops in Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, and Nigeria. This is his final trip. Talking about U.S.-African collaborations in trade, climate change, infrastructure, health, and security was the trip’s declared goal.

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Musings From Abroad

Russia begins diesel exports to Sudan as EU boycott bites

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London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) data shows that Russia has started sending fuel to troubled North African country, Sudan.

The sales begin amid new demand for Russia’s refined goods following a trade boycott against it by the EU over the invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Since February 2023 when the EU put a full ban on importing Russian oil products, diesel has been sent to Brazil, Turkey, and countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. It has also been loaded from ship to ship.

Data from LSEG shows that two fuel ships, the Pavo Rock and the Conga, brought about 70,000 metric tons of ultra-low sulphur diesel to Sudan after loading it in February at Primorsk in the Baltic Sea. Shipping records show that the goods were unloaded at Port Sudan Al Khair Terminal on April 2 and April 5, respectively.

The Marabella Sun, a ship that was loaded in March at the Russian Baltic port of Vysotsk, is now on its way to Port Sudan and should be unloaded on April 17.

A source quoted by Reuters claims Sudan needs about 45,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 6,000 tons per day, of diesel to meet local demand. However, Sudan’s Petroleum Ministry did not answer a request for comment.

About 60,000 to 70,000 metric tons of diesel are brought into Sudan every month, mostly from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. According to the LSEG, about 116,000 metric tons of diesel came into Sudan in March.

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Musings From Abroad

US wants more funding in response to Sudan conflict

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The United States Special Envoy to Sudan says that Washington will push for more than $100 million in extra funding to help with the conflict in the North African country. Washington hopes to rally other donors at a conference this month for donors to talk about the humanitarian crisis.

Partners from around the world should give the Sudanese civil war more attention, according to Special Envoy Tom Perriello, who also hopes that more countries will show their support at a donor meeting in Paris on April 15.

The Sudanese Army (SAF) and the militia Rapid Support Forces (RSF) went to war on April 15, 2023. Since the terrible fighting in Sudan began in April 2023, more than a million people have fled to nearby countries. About 48,000 Chadians were forced to return to eastern Chad and about 378,000 Sudanese refugees are among them.

“The international response has been pitiful. We’re at 5% of the needed amount,” said Perriello, adding that the U.S. has already committed over a billion dollars in humanitarian relief to the conflict.

“We’ll be doing another nine-figure push around this,” he said, without elaborating.

Millions of people are now severely hungry because of the war, which has also caused the world’s biggest migration crisis and waves of killings and sexual violence based on ethnicity in the Darfur area of western Sudan.

Perriello said that the US will keep looking at what is happening on the ground and will take steps to make things more expensive as needed through sanctions and other methods. Because of the war, the US has put sanctions on the deputy head of the RSF, other big companies owned by both sides and other groups.

Perriello also said that peace talks probably wouldn’t start again on April 18, which is the date he had said before that Washington was looking at. Saudi Arabia and the US tried to make peace in Jeddah last year, but the talks did not go well.

“I don’t think we’ll see meetings in Jeddah on the 18th,” he said, adding that Washington is not waiting for formal talks to begin but that negotiations are happening every day.

“We would love frankly for the talks to have started last week. But what we know is the Saudis are committed to the talks, to talks that include a broader set of the key actors, and we are hoping that they will commit to a date.”

The UN says that 8 million people have left their homes and that 25 million people, or half of Sudan’s population, need help. The US says that both sides of the conflict have done crimes during the war.

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