US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken arrived in South Africa on Sunday to begin a three-nation visit aimed at countering Russian influence on the continent.

The visit took place after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made an extensive tour of Africa at the end of last month.

South Africa, a leader in the developing world, has remained neutral in the war in Ukraine, refusing to join Western calls to condemn Moscow, which opposed apartheid until the end of white rule in 1994.

Blinken will hold talks on Monday with his South African counterpart, Naledi Pandora, and will also announce the US government’s new strategy for Africa, Pretoria said in statement.

They will “discuss current and recent developments related to the global geopolitical situation,” it said.

The State Department last month called African countries “geostrategic players and critical partners on today’s most pressing issues, from promoting an open and stable international system to combating the effects of climate change, food security and global pandemics to shaping our technological and economic futures.”

Blinken, who is on his second trip to Africa since his appointment early last year, is due to travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda later this week.

His visit to DR Congo is aimed at boosting support for sub-Saharan Africa’s largest country, which is struggling to turn the page on decades of conflict.

He is wrapping up his tour in Rwanda, where tensions have flared with DR Congo after it accused its eastern neighbor of supporting the M23 rebels, a charge Kigali denies.

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