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The Latest: Melania Trump departs Washington on Africa trip

October 1, 2018
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First lady Melania Trump waves as she boards a plane, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md., en route to Africa. Melania Trump heads for Africa on her first big solo international trip, aiming to make child well-being the focus of a five-day, four-country tour. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Melania Trump’s trip to Africa (all times local):

6:20 p.m.

First lady Melania Trump has departed from Washington on her first big international trip without the president.

Mrs. Trump left early Monday evening on a seven-day trip that will take her to the African nations of Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Egypt. Child welfare is to be the main focus.

She gave a rare wave to the press corps and sent an enthusiastic tweet: ”“We are taking off for #Africa! So looking forward to visiting #Ghana #Malawi #Kenya & #Egypt as I take #BeBest international. #FLOTUSinAfrica2018.”

Her first extended turn on the world stage outside the shadow of President Donald Trump could still be complicated by her husband. Trump has upset some African leaders with impolite comments about the continent, including using a vulgarity to describe some countries.

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2:15 a.m.

Melania Trump is pushing ahead in her role as first lady by going on her first big international trip without the president.

She departs Washington on Monday afternoon on a seven-day trip that will take her to the African nations of Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Egypt. Child welfare is to be the main focus.

But her first extended turn on the world stage outside the shadow of President Donald Trump could still be complicated by her husband, even though he’ll be thousands of miles and an ocean away. Trump has upset some African leaders with impolite comments about the continent, including using a vulgarity to describe some countries.

One Africa expert says Mrs. Trump may end up having to also play the role of fence-mender as a result.

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