Hillary Clinton Dances Across Africa in Diplomacy Marathon

Engaging leaders on issues from HIV/AIDS and gay rights to economic partnerships, Secretary of State Clinton is on the move in Africa.

Posted: 08/08/2012 10:27 PM EDT
Hillary Clinton Dances Across Africa in Diplomacy Marathon

To say Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been busy in Africa lately is an understatement. Clinton has been shuttling between a dizzying number of meetings in seven African countries and, in addition to the already seemingly choreographed mix of bold statements and flattering pleasantries, Clinton actually took the time to hit the dance floor in South Africa.

Before making her now-famous, dance-floor debut, however, Clinton had business to handle; paying a visit to Nelson Mandela and taking part in a local summit about economic development.

Clinton announced Wednesday that the U.S. has begun transferring control of an anti-AIDS program to the South African government, calling the shift a "major step" in the country’s fight against the virus.

Since 2004, the U.S. has spent $3.2 billion to help stem the spread of HIV/AIDS in South Africa.

During her stop in Uganda, a nation further down on the U.S. foreign policy favorites list, Clinton chided leader Yoweri Museveni for his 30-year long run as president, although the official reason for her visit was to thank Museveni for security assistance in Somalia and elsewhere.

"It is important for leaders to make judgments about how they can best support the institutionalization of democracy,” Clinton said before a meeting between the two. "It's not about strong men; it's about strong institutions.”

Clinton also took the opportunity to vaguely address Uganda’s repressive stance on homosexuality.

"It is critical for all Ugandans — the government and citizens alike — to speak out against discrimination, harassment and intimidation of anyone. That's true no matter where they come from, what they believe, or whom they love," Clinton said.

In Senegal, Clinton’s first stop on her tour, she took a moment to mention another superpower that has recently increased its influence on the African continent: China. In July, the Asian giant put $20 billion of loans on the table for African countries to take advantage of during the next three years.  Without naming names, Clinton made sure to distinguish the U.S. from “other countries” that may not be interested in the holistic development of African nations.

"America will stand up for democracy and universal human rights even when it might be easier to look the other way and keep the resources flowing,” she said.

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(Photo: AMOS GUMULIRA/AFP/GettyImages)

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