Tillerson to Resume African Schedule on Sunday After Falling Ill

Updated on
  • Secretary of State laid low in Kenya amid hectic schedule
  • Two days without sleep, working on North Korea and tariffs

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, laid low in the middle of a week-long trip to Africa, was feeling better by the end of the day and plans to resume his public schedule in Kenya on Sunday, the State Department said.

The Secretary of State canceled Saturday’s planned events in Nairobi, Kenya, after falling ill. Tillerson, 65, had gone two days without sleep while working on North Korea and other issues, said Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein.

Tillerson has another day in Nairobi before heading to N’Djamena, Chad, and Abuja, Nigeria, on Monday and Tuesday. The five-nation trip to Africa has coincided with two major foreign-policy events: President Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, and the dramatic announcement on Thursday that the president would meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in May.

“He’s been dealing with all these issues in real time,” Goldstein said.

The North Korea announcement came well after midnight for Tillerson, who was then in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A few hours later, he traveled to Djibouti and then on to Nairobi, where he went directly into evening meetings with President Uhuru Kenyatta and other top officials.

Tillerson had planned on Saturday to visit a site run by the president’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or Pepfar, and then lay a wreath at the site of the August 1998 bombing of the American Embassy in downtown Nairobi. U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec attended the Pepfar event alone, and the State Department was looking at rescheduling the wreath-laying ceremony, Goldstein said.

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