Russia looms large on Scholzs first Africa tour as chancellor

  div classBodysc17zpet90 cdBBJodivpBy Andreas Rinke and Sarah Marshp

  pBERLIN Reuters – Russia‘s impact on energy and food prices and security will provide the backdrop to Olaf Scholz’s first trip to Africa as German Chancellor, a threeday tour of Senegal, Niger and South Africa kicking off on Sunday.pdivdivdiv classBodysc17zpet90 cdBBJodiv

  pThe first stop on Scholzs trip is Senegal, which has billions of cubic metres of gas reserves and is expected to become a major gas producer in the region.p

  pGermany is seeking to reduce its heavy reliance on Russia for gas following the Kremlins invasion of Ukraine. It could help explore a gas field in Senegal, a government official said on Friday.p

  pThe source said Scholz also wanted to discuss possible cooperation on the development of renewable energy. In Senegal, he will visit a solar power plant after meeting and holding a joint news conference with the countrys President Macky Sall.p

  pGermany has invited both Senegal, which currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the African Union, and South Africa to attend the G7 summit it is hosting in June as guest countries.p

  pBoth countries abstained from voting on a United Nations resolution against Russias invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a special military operation to demilitarize a neighbor it says threatened its security. p

  pUkraine and Western allies say the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.p

  pThe conflict has triggered supply disruptions that have pushed up food and energy prices in Africa. Russias military has blocked exports from ports in Ukraine, a major grains and food supplier to the region. The Kremlin blames Western sanctions for the rising prices.p


  pScholz will travel later on Sunday to Niger. The country has taken on a bigger role hosting European special forces to stem a jihadist insurgency across the Sahel since European relations with the military junta ruling neighboring Mali have deteriorated.p

  pThe European Union suspended its military training mission in Mali due to a lack of guarantees from Malian authorities that military contractors from Russias Wagner Group would not interfere in the work. The group is under EU sanctions accused of human rights abuses.p

  pRussia denies any wrongdoing in Mali or in any other country where Wagner operates. Both Mali and Russia have previously said Wagner Group is not made up of mercenaries but trainers helping local troops with equipment bought from Russia.p

  pScholz will visit German troops in Niger and discuss the lengthy battle against insurgents linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State that have killed thousands and made swathes of territory ungovernable in the Sahel, south of the Sahara.p

  pOn Monday evening Scholz is set to travel to Johannesburg for the final leg of his tour.p


  pp Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Sarah Marsh Editing by Frank Jack Danielp

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