Biden Hosts President of Angola as US Seeks to Deepen Africa Ties

Biden Hosts President of Angola as US Seeks to Deepen Africa Ties
Angola's President Joao Manuel Goncalves Lourenco addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Savannah Hulsey Pointer

U.S. President Joe Biden is currently seeking to reaffirm his commitment to Africa by receiving Angolan President Joao Manuel Goncalves Lourenco in the Oval Office on Nov. 30.

This is despite the fact that his administration is focusing a significant amount of its attention on two wars, one in Ukraine and the other in Israel.

This comes on the heels of Angola’s move to establish itself as a strategic partner to the United States and as it has transitioned away from Russian and Chinese influence under Mr. Lourenco’s term. The meeting at the White House comes as a result of either of these developments.

The meeting lasted less than one hour, and Mr. Lourenco spoke to reporters after leaving.

“The meeting was better than I expected,” Mr. Lourenco said. “Our relationship is at a high level. There is a total opening by the U.S. government, and Angola will win with this. Not just Angola, but the continent.”

President Biden commented on the event as well.

“We are meeting at a historical moment,” he said. “Relationship between U.S. and Angola never been more important.”

President Biden went on to say that he had been to Angola and “will be back.”

Mr. Lourenco thanked the president for the invitation, and said of his nation, “We are open to cooperate [sic] with the U.S. in economy, defense, security, transportation, energy, agriculture, and space cooperation.”

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Nov. 30 that Angola is a strategic partner for the United States, noting that the two leaders will discuss economic and security cooperation, as well as regional and global issues.

The meeting was framed by a senior administration official speaking to journalists prior to the event as a milestone in the year of partnership, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the United States and Angola.

US–Angola Partnership

According to the official, the Biden administration has emphasized its commitment to the U.S.–Angola partnership through various initiatives.

These include major infrastructure and economic deals, high-level engagements, and collaboration on global and regional priorities aimed at enhancing bilateral ties. The meeting follows a prior visit by the secretary of defense to Angola, emphasizing the perceived strategic significance of the relationship.

Among the initiatives is the president’s flagship Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, involving a financial commitment exceeding a billion dollars for the Lobito Corridor project. This project aims to connect Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Zambia to global markets through the Lobito port.

Addressing regional security challenges, particularly conflicts in Eastern Congo, has been a focal point of collaboration. The United States will acknowledge Angola’s diplomatic efforts in this area.

Angola’s involvement in global issues, such as Russia’s war in Ukraine and the signing of the Artemis Accords, is highlighted for its perceived leadership role. The Artemis Accords outline principles for civil space exploration and use in the 21st century, with Angola being the third African country to sign.

The meeting is expected to involve a review of progress and discussions on the future direction of the partnership between President Biden and Mr. Lourenco. The meeting is framed by the administration official as reflective of a shared commitment to mutual cooperation, economic development, and the addressing of global challenges.

The visit coincides with the unveiling of a Trans-African Corridor by President Biden and his allies among the Group of 20 leading developing and affluent nations.

The corridor would link the Lobito port in Angola with landlocked regions of the African continent, including the copper mining regions of Zambia and the Kananga province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It’s a component of a Biden administration-led global infrastructure initiative designed to serve as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road undertaking.

A significant portion of the Biden administration’s recent foreign policy attention has been devoted to the conflict between Israel and Hamas and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Declaring that U.S. leadership “holds the world together,” President Biden advised in an October address from the Oval Office that the country must increase its support for Israel and Ukraine amid two violent, unpredictable, and divisive conflicts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.