President Barack Obama has kicked off the first leg of a three-country visit to Africa – his most extensive trip to the continent as president.
Air Force One touched down in the Senegalese capital of Dakar on Wednesday night.
The president was accompanied by First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha.
Mr Obama’s trip is highly anticipated given his personal ties to the continent. His father was born in Kenya and many of his relatives still live there.
However, the president has spent just one day in Africa since taking office – a 2009 day trip to Ghana.
In addition to Senegal, he will visit South Africa and Tanzania during this week-long trip.
Looming over Mr Obama’s visit is the worry that Nelson Mandela Remains In Hospital
Few major policy announcements are expected during Mr Obama’s trip.
Instead, the president will focus on promoting democratic institutions, boosting opportunities for Africa’s vast youth population and promoting the continent as a growing market for US businesses.
The White House defended the purpose of the trip despite its low policy expectations.
“Presidential trips to regions of the world like Africa bring enormous benefits in terms of our relationship with the countries visited and the countries in the region,” spokesman Jay Carney told reporters travelling on Air Force One.
“The trip itself will not be the end point of our engagement, but will enhance it, deepen it and further it,” he said.