US Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in South Africa to begin a three-nation tour to counter Russian influence on the continent.
The visit occurred after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov completed a month-long trip to Africa.
South Africa, a growing world leader, has remained neutral in the Ukraine conflict, refusing to join Western efforts to criticize Moscow, which resisted apartheid before the end of white minority rule in 1994.
According to a statement from Pretoria, Blinken will meet with his South African counterpart Naledi Pandor on Monday and announce the US government’s new Africa policy.
They will “address ongoing and recent geopolitical developments,” according to the statement.
Last month, the State Department referred to African nations as “geostrategic players and critical partners on the most pressing issues of our time, including promoting an open and stable international system, addressing the effects of climate change, food insecurity, and global pandemics, and shaping our technological and economic futures.”
Later this week, Blinken, who is on his second journey to Africa since his appointment early last year, will go to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.
His trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo is to bolster support for the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa, trying to end decades of bloodshed.
Rwanda concludes the visit, where tensions have flared with the Democratic Republic of the Congo after Kigali was accused of supporting M23 rebels by its eastern neighbor, an allegation Kigali rejects.