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Q&A: China’s Role in Washington’s Divided, Confusing Foreign Policy Towards Africa

The United States Department of State main building in Washington, D.C. Alastair Pike / AFP

Friday’s announcement that the United States government will impose travel and visa restrictions on four African countries left a lot of Africa policy observers somewhat perplexed. While there had been rumors for days leading up to the decision that Nigeria was going to be on the list of targeted countries, it seemed improbable that the White House would impose sanctions on Africa’s largest economy just as the U.S. government was pushing for heightened engagement in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

When the new travel restrictions were announced, it appeared that the State Department may not have been in the loop on the decision, or at least on the timing of the announcement, and that led to some awkward public diplomacy on Twitter. Less than 45-minutes after it was unveiled that Nigeria was now on the travel ban list, Washington’s top diplomat for Africa posted on his Twitter page how much he was looking forward to this week’s meeting of the U.S.-Nigeria Strategic Dialogue. While there’s no way to know if Assistant Secretary Nagy was unaware that the travel restrictions had been announced or just thought it better to proceed with business as usual, it did give the perception that the White House and the State Department may not be fully aligned in its Africa policy

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