US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday revealed he will attend an African Union summit in Ethiopia next month, and said Washington had be more engaged with Africa.
The May 19-27 summit in Addis Ababa will mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity, the predecessor to the AU.
Kerry told US lawmakers he was concerned by China's growing influence in Africa, and viewed a recent tour of three African nations by Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a "negative development."
"China is now out-investing the United States significantly in Africa," Kerry told his former colleagues on the Senate foreign relations committee.
Although China was principally focused on resources which did not pose direct competition to the United States, Kerry said he was worried about possible negative consequences.
"Between Iran, China, other countries... they're having an impact on the business practices and on the choices... some of the governments there are facing. And it's not been a positive one in some regards."
Without naming names, the top US diplomat said some people were "engaged in bad business practices, in bribery" which was impacting the stability of some governments.
"So we're going to have to be more engaged in Africa," Kerry said, adding the State Department, along with the White House, was "rushing" to fill vacant positions such as a pointman for Sudan and a special envoy for the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"Also I'm going to be at the 50th anniversary in Ethiopia in May," Kerry told senators, adding "there are some other engagements that we're looking at with respect to sort of trying to be front and present."