Finns set to re-elect Niinisto to ease Russia concerns 1 day ago Bomb attacks in Colombian city target police 1 day ago France’s Macron ‘must show example’ on deficit: EU commissioner 1 day ago Donald Trump. / AFP PHOTO / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS President Donald Trump said the United States “deeply respects” Africans and will dispatch its top diplomat to the continent, in a letter to African leaders seen by AFP on Sunday. The letter sent last week comes after Trump provoked a firestorm of indignation among African nations earlier in January when he reportedly called them “shithole countries” during a meeting with lawmakers in Washington. While Trump has denied the remarks, they are expected to be formally condemned by the 55 member states of the African Union during their ongoing summit in the Ethiopian capital. “I want to underscore that the United States deeply respects the people of Africa, and my commitment to strong and respectful relationships with African nations as sovereign nations is firm,” Trump wrote in the letter. “Our soldiers are fighting side-by-side to defeat terrorists,” he said, and “we are working together to increase free, fair and reciprocal trade.” The letter was not made public, but its existence was confirmed by Chris Meade, a diplomat with the US delegation to the AU. Meade declined to comment on its contents, but an AU source confirmed the accuracy of the text of the letter circulating on social media. Earlier this month media reports emerged of Trump demanding to know during a meeting on immigration reform why the United States should accept citizens from “shithole countries”, including Haiti, El Salvador and the entire African continent. Trump defended himself on Twitter, saying: “The language used by me… was tough, but this was not the language used.” In the letter, Trump does not acknowledge the reported comments, but said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would make a “extended visit” in March. He told African leaders that he looks forward to “welcoming many of you to the White House.”

Unidentified assailants attacked a police station with explosives in the Colombian city of Barranquilla early Sunday, less than a day after a similar bombing killed five police officers, authorities said.An official said four police officers and a civilian were injured in the latest attack.”A possible link to yesterday’s attack is being investigated,” the official said.

The mayor of Barranquilla, Alejandro Char, had attributed Saturday’s bomb attack to retaliation against police by drug trafficking gangs.

That bomb exploded as police were assembling for their morning formation, killing five police officers and injuring 41.

It was one of the deadliest on security personnel in recent years, casting a pall over preparations for the annual carnival, a major attraction in the bustling Caribbean port city.

Security is stepped up

President Juan Manuel Santos ordered security in the city to be stepped up with an additional 1,500 police.Santos has been working to end a more than 50-year-old conflict that has involved leftist guerrilla groups, paramilitary death squads and drug traffickers.

“We will not rest until we find those responsible, my solidarity is with the families of the victims and the wounded,” Santos wrote on his Twitter account.

Rodrigo Londono, the former leader of the FARC guerrilla group and now its candidate in presidential elections this year, also “vehemently” condemned the Barranquilla attack.

“All our solidarity is for the relatives of the slain police,” he wrote on Twitter.

Santos reached a historic peace agreement with the FARC formerly known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — in November 2016. That led to the rebels’ disarmament and transformation into a political party.

The president, who is set to step down in August, is hoping to reach a similar agreement with the smaller National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas.