Trump to Meet With Rwanda Leader Paul Kagame to Reaffirm U.S.-Africa Relationship After 'Shithole' Comments

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Donald Trump will meet with Rwanda leader Paul Kagame on Friday to 'reaffirm' U.S.-Africa ties NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty

President Donald Trump is set to meet with Rwanda President Paul Kagame in Davos on Friday in a bid to "reaffirm the U.S.-Africa relationship."

The two leaders are expected to meet at the World Economic Forum as part of a series of one-on-ones between world leaders.

Trump and Kagame will be meeting to "reaffirm the U.S.-Africa relationship and discuss shared priorities, including trade and security," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a briefing earlier this week.

National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster said during the press briefing that the "President will be building on what was a very successful meeting with African leaders on the side of the U.N. General Assembly late last year."

He added that "Africa is the perfect place for us to transition from just delivery of assistance to robust trade and economic relationships that benefit the people of the United States and the people of Africa."

Ties between the U.S. and African countries have been frayed after Trump was accused of referring to African nations and Haiti as "shithole countries."

Trump reportedly made the remarks during an Oval Office meeting on immigration, questioning why the U.S. was taking in so many immigrants from "shithole countries" like Haiti and African nations.

Trump has since denied using those words.

Read more: 'I love Trump,' Ugandan leader says, praising President for speaking 'frankly' in 'shithole countries' comment

The comments sparked backlash from countries and organizations around the world, including from several African leaders.

Botswana's foreign ministry called the remarks "highly irresponsible, reprehensible and racist." The president of Senegal, Macky Sall, said he was "shocked by the words of President Trump," adding: "I reject and condemn them vigorously."

Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni has stood apart from other African leaders, however, praising Trump for speaking "frankly" to Africans and hailing the U.S. leader as "one of the best presidents ever," in the wake of the vulgar comments controversy.

Kagame, who has served as Rwanda's president since 2000, is the incoming chairman of the African Union, an organization which represents the continent's 55 member states.

Not unlike Trump, Kagame has been known to be a strong critic of the media who has worked to discredit journalists in the past.

U.S.-based rights organization Freedom House does not recognize Rwanda as a country with a "free" press, stating that media in the country in 2017 was still "severely restricted, despite assurances by government officials of their commitment to review the situation."

The African Union has previously called on Trump to apologize for his alleged vulgar remarks, asking for "a retraction of the comment as well as an apology, not only to the Africans, but to all people of African descent around the globe."

The union also made clear this week that it had still not forgotten the comments, bringing up the issue at a semiannual meeting of African heads of state and government at the African Union's headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

"At this time of the session, Africa has yet to finish digesting the statements of the president of the United States, which profoundly shocked with their messages conveying contempt, hate and desire to marginalize and exclude Africans," chairman of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat said on Wednesday, according to The Washington Post.

Trump's meeting with Kagame will be a chance for the U.S. president to clarify his comments. It's unclear whether he intends to apologize.

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