The United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met on Sunday with South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor, and on Saturday, with Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, and discussed a wide range of issues, including the crises in northern Ethiopia and Sudan.
Blinken, who is part of President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s delegation to the G20 in Rome, Italy, and COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, also discussed the coronavirus pandemic with both leaders.
The State Department said Secretary Blinken and Minister Pandor emphasized the strong partnership and shared priorities of the United States and South Africa.
“The Secretary and the Minister discussed ongoing cooperation on climate change, COVID-19, and developments in Ethiopia and Sudan,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. “The Secretary expressed appreciation for South African leadership on numerous common objectives, including building inclusive prosperity, strengthening health infrastructure, and promoting democratic values.”
Price added that meeting with Foreign Minister Di Maio for Italy’s leadership of the G20 this year and previewed the U.S.-Italy Strategic Dialogue plenary in Washington on November 10, “Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Di Maio reaffirmed support for a sovereign, stable, unified, and secure Libya with no foreign interference and a democratically elected government.”
“They expressed shared concern about the political security and humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia, including Eritrea’s ongoing destabilizing military presence in that region. They also discussed joint efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and climate crisis as well as a shared approach to Tunisia and the Sahel,” he said.
The crisis in Ethiopia has lingered for a year and left thousands of people dead and hundreds of thousands on the brink of famine. In Sudan, the military overthrew the civilian government last week, angering Washington. President Biden reacted to the coup in Sudan this week and called on the military to hand power back to the civilian authorities. But so far, that call has not been heeded.