First lady Melania Trump will make a solo trip to Africa later this year, she announced Monday.
“This will be my first time traveling to Africa and I am excited to educate myself on the issues facing children throughout the continent, while also learning about its rich culture and history,” the first lady said in a statement.
She added that she plans to use the trip to highlight the humanitarian work and development programs underway in many African countries.
“We are a global society and I believe it is through open dialogue and the exchanging of ideas that we have a real opportunity to learn from one another,” the first lady said.
News of the trip was first reported by the Associated Press.
She has frequently accompanied her husband on foreign trips, but the Africa visit will be her first major solo journey abroad as first lady. Last September, she traveled to Toronto, where she led the U.S. delegation at the Invictus Games, a sports competition for wounded veterans, and met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Britain’s Prince Harry.
President Trump has not visited Africa since taking office.
In January, the president prompted a global outcry when he reportedly used the term “shithole countries” when speaking to lawmakers about immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African nations. Trump has denied making the remarks, which were roundly criticized by the chairman of the African Union Commission, among others.
A visit in March by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to five African countries was aimed at repairing some of the damage caused by Trump’s comments — but that effort was dealt a blow by Trump’s firing of Tillerson just as the trip was wrapping up.
Further details were not immediately available on the expected itinerary or timing of Melania Trump’s trip.
The first lady has at times drawn attention for delivering a message that diverges from that of her husband.
In June, as outrage over the Trump administration’s family-separation policy was at its peak, Melania Trump made a surprise visit to a shelter for migrant children in Texas, where she told workers she wanted to “help these children be reunited with their families as quickly as possible.”
The words emblazoned on a green jacket she wore that day — “I really don’t care, do u?” — also stirred speculation about her intended message.
And on Monday morning, as her husband was lashing out at his political opponents on Twitter, the first lady was warning about the danger of abusive online behavior at a conference in Maryland on preventing cyberbullying.
Social media “can be used in many positive ways but can also be destructive and harmful when used incorrectly,” she said at the event.