Trump welcomes first leader from sub-Saharan Africa

President Donald Trump welcomes the first leader from sub-Saharan Africa to the White House on Monday nearly 15 months into his term.

The discussions with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari are likely to center around security challenges, including the nearly decade-long insurgency by Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria’s northeast. But the meeting’s tricky subtext is Trump’s broader view of Africa, including his description of some African nations as “sh**hole countries” during a private meeting early this year.

Trump denied making the comment, though acknowledged in a tweet he had used “tough” language in the meeting, which was about immigration. He insisted to reporters afterward that he wasn’t a racist.

The crude remark, along with another reported conversation in which Trump mused Nigerians wouldn’t want to return to their “huts” if they came to the US, remain the President’s most well-known views of Africa, a place he talks about rarely and hasn’t visited.

The White House hopes Monday’s meeting will help shift those perceptions, at least slightly. The two leaders will hold talks in the Oval Office before moving to a working lunch. They’ll take questions from reporters at a joint news conference in the afternoon.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and a leading crude oil exporter, so economic matters will be on the agenda, particularly as China makes major investments across Africa.

But it’s the fragile security situation and ongoing fight against the Boko Haram jihadists that are likely to dominate talks. The violent insurgency has killed thousands and group abductions of schoolgirls have caused international outrage. Neighboring countries have been drawn into the terror group’s attempt to carve out an Islamic state, including Niger, where four American servicemen were killed last year.

Trump is expected to tout the recent sale of military aircraft to Nigeria meant to aid its bid to counter extremists, a move previous administrations had refused citing human rights concerns. Buhari, who faces re-election next year, is planning to ask for additional assistance during the talks.