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Vol 38 No 24

Published 5th December 1997

Madeleine's mission

Washington's new Africa team is concentrating its fire on Central Africa with the Secretary of State's six nation hop this month

Due to land in Addis Ababa on 9 December, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will start her six-nation hop with an address to the Organisation of African Unity. The address is likely to focus on regional security and Washington's willingness to help the OAU's security mechanism, and a strategy to integrate Africa more closely into the global economy. But it will not be business as usual, for either Washington or Africa. Albright's new Africa team headed by Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Susan Rice, has been shaping a new agenda for American policy on Africa. Not since Chester Crocker, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa under Ronald Reagan has an Assistant Secretary had as good access to the President and Secretary of State as Rice. Albright's decision to tour Africa in her first year in office (which her predecessor Warren Christopher left until his final year) is an indication of this. Their difficulty is that without the Cold War they cannot recreate the urgency that Africa policy warranted in the Crocker era: multinationals' profit margins are no match for the march of Communist hordes. One Washington Africanist commented last month: 'It would be good to have an Africa policy at all, let alone a new one.'

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