Illness Sidelines US Secretary of State for a Day in Africa

by: JOSH LEDERMAN, Associated Press
/ (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) /

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson canceled his scheduled events Saturday in Kenya because he was sick.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, right, walks with Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, left, past metal sculptures of animals, inside State House in Nairobi, Kenya Friday, March 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

“The secretary is not feeling well after a long couple days working on major issues back home such as North Korea,” U.S. Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein said.

By the afternoon, Tillerson had improved and was expected to resume his schedule Sunday.

Goldstein said some events may be rescheduled, including a planned stop at the site of the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.

An event Saturday for PEPFAR, the U.S. program to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa, went ahead without Tillerson.  His visit to the U.S. Embassy to meet with American diplomats was scrapped.

A rigorous schedule that included stops in three African countries on Friday has been made even more strenuous for Tillerson by events in Washington. Tillerson was up much of the previous night working the phones when President Donald Trump agreed to a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Tillerson arrived in Kenya on Friday afternoon for the third stop on his five-country tour of Africa. He had started his day Friday in Ethiopia with the North Korea announcement and flew to Djibouti for a brief visit before continuing on to Nairobi.