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Musings From Abroad

US Secretary of State Blinken in Egypt for talks over Gaza hostage deal

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The United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, landed in Cairo on Tuesday for his meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

The meeting takes place as the US attempts to push for a hostage agreement and a Gaza truce brokered by Qatar and Egypt.

Shortly after dawn, the top United States ambassador left Riyadh for what is expected to be a long day of visiting Egypt and Qatar before taking a plane to Israel to talk about preparations for Gaza after the war, negotiations over hostages, and the possibility of normalising relations between Arab nations and Israel.

Blinken is making his fifth trip to the area since October as the US continues its campaign of retaliation against a group affiliated with Iran that attacked and murdered US Marines in a military outpost in Jordan last month.

Washington believes that progress on other issues, like the governance of post-war Gaza, a route to Palestinian statehood, and an agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia to normalise their relationship, depend on a potential truce to release the last hostages that Hamas kidnapped on October 7 and to halt hostilities in Gaza.

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.

Musings From Abroad

US keen on expanding bilateral trade with Nigeria

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According to the US Consulate in Nigeria, it is looking for ways to guarantee prosperity for Nigeria by increasing bilateral trade and investment.

 

The Consulate, in a statement, maintained it was looking for ways to develop bilateral investment and trade as well as guarantee prosperity between the US and Nigeria.

 

Mike Ervin, the chief of the Political and Economic Section of the US Consulate in Lagos made this statement on Wednesday during a working visit to the governor of Abia State, Alex Otti, on Wednesday,

 

He noted that the consulate covers the 17 southern states of Nigeria; hence its mission “to expand bilateral trade and investment and ensure prosperity between the United States and Nigeria”.

 

“In the US consulate in Lagos, we cover the 17 southern states and our top job more than any other is to seek ways to expand bilateral trade and investment and expand shared prosperity between our people.

 

“Our people share a long history of partnership and that was highlighted by the visit of our Secretary of State, Anthony Blinkin, in Nigeria a couple of weeks ago, where he spoke eloquently and strongly on the significance and importance of US-Nigeria bilateral relationship. And our desire is to seek ways of expanding that relationship to build prosperity for our people,” he stated.

 

The petroleum/mining and wholesale trade industries account for the majority of foreign direct investment from the United States, which is the country that invests in Nigeria the most. The value of goods traded both ways in 2022 between the US and Nigeria exceeded $8.1 billion.

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Musings From Abroad

UN sanctions six Congolese rebels over crisis in its eastern region

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Six members of five armed organisations in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council as violence between the Congolese army and M23 Tutsi-led rebels, who are backed by Rwanda, has escalated.

 

The fighting in this decades-long battle has made it more likely that Rwanda and Congo could go to war, which might draw in armies from nearby countries like South Africa, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, and Malawi.

 

The Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Robert Wood, told a meeting of the 15-member Security Council that “The United States firmly supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the DRC and lasting peace for all Congolese people. Rwanda and the DRC must walk back from the brink of war.”

A travel ban, asset freeze, and arms embargo were placed on two leaders of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), one commander of the Twirwaneho armed organisation, and one leader of the National People’s Coalition for the Sovereignty of Congo (CNPSC) rebels by the Security Council’s DRC sanctions committee.

The military spokesman for the M23 Tutsi-led rebels, allegedly backed by Rwanda, and a leader of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an organisation started by Hutus who left Rwanda after participating in the 1994 genocide that killed over 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were also placed on the UN list.

“These individuals are responsible for numerous abuses,” Wood said of the six sanctioned individuals.

After replacing a previous U.N. operation in 2010 to aid in reducing insecurity in the country’s east, Congo has been home to a UN peacekeeping force known as MONUSCO for more than 13 years.

Felix Tshisekedi, the president of the Congo, requested in September that the peacekeepers’ withdrawal be expedited, and the UN Security Council granted his request, allowing the deployment to terminate in December.

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