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African leaders head to Washington as US hosts summit to resuscitate ties

by Theophile
Joe Biden et Paul Biya

At a time of growing Chinese, Russian presence, US says it wants to deepen partnerships with African nations

Several African heads of state have traveled to the US for a three-day summit starting Tuesday that Washington says “will underscore the importance of US-Africa relations and increased cooperation on shared global priorities.”

President Joe Biden will host 49 top African officials at the US-Africa Leaders Summit, including Moussa Faki Mahamat, head of the African Union Commission.

Countries suspended by the African Union, including Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea, have not been invited.

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and Zambia’s Hakainde Hichilema were among several African leaders who tweeted about their departure for the US over the weekend.

Museveni said he would reach out to “partners to cooperate … in the process of accelerating the ongoing value addition of products and also expanding and diversifying the economy,” while Hichilema pledged to “showcase Zambia.”

The summit comes at a time of growing concern in Washington over China and Russia’s increasing presence in Africa, who have both worked in recent years to forge closer ties on a continent home to some 1.3 billion people.

Pressed on this topic at a briefing last Friday, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre brushed aside the assertion and said the “focus … is going to be on Africa.”

“This summit is an opportunity to deepen the many partnerships we have on the African continent. We will focus on our efforts to strengthen these partnerships across a wide range of sectors, spanning from businesses to health to peace and security,” she said.

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Key areas to be addressed at the summit include new economic engagement; peace, security, and good governance; food security; and the climate crisis, according to a separate US State Department statement.

Vice President Kamala Harris said the summit demonstrates the US’ enduring commitment to its African partners “based on principles of mutual respect and shared interests and values.”

The high-profile gathering will prove critical in efforts to bolster economic relationships between the US and Africa, she said.

Hassan Isilow/AA

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