President Joe Biden said Thursday he will visit sub-Saharan Africa next year, the first U.S. president to travel there in a decade. He announced the trip — still unscheduled — as he wrapped up a U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit by stressing he’s serious about increasing U.S. attention to the growing continent.
His promise of a personal visit came as Biden declared to the 49 leaders gathered for the summit that “Africa belongs at the table” in every conversation of global consequence.
The Biden administration used the summit — a follow-up to one held in 2014 by Barack Obama — as the latest part of a charm offensive with leaders of African nations. The administration is looking to strengthen relations with those nations as China has surpassed the U.S. in trade with Africa and is aiming to grow its military presence.
The continent is crucial to global powers because of its rapidly growing population, significant natural resources and sizable voting bloc in the United Nations. Some leaders who took part in summit made clear they want the Biden administration to steer away from forcing them to choose between the U.S. and its global competitors when it comes to trade matters.