Tillerson cuts short Africa trip to return to Washington


NAIROBI (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has cut short his first trip to Africa to return to Washington about one day ahead of schedule to deal with urgent work there.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson listens to a question during a news conference in Nairobi, Kenya, March 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Tillerson’s travel plans have changed so that he can return to Washington early on Tuesday morning instead of late that night, a spokesman for the top U.S. diplomat told reporters traveling with him.

The secretary departed the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on Monday morning. He will visit Chad and Nigeria, both oil-producers struggling to contain the Islamist Boko Haram insurgency, on Monday afternoon and evening.

Instead of spending Monday night in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, before flying back to Washington, Tillerson’s spokesman said the secretary had changed his schedule so that he would spend only a few hours in Nigeria before leaving late in the evening to fly home.

On Saturday while visiting Nairobi, Tillerson, 65, canceled his scheduled events because he had been feeling unwell. [L5N1QS0A7]

Tillerson’s week-long, five-country visit to Africa has come amid other urgent foreign policy developments, including Thursday’s announcement that U.S. President Donald Trump will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Reporting by pool reporter; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Alison Williams

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