Biden plans Africa summit in December as China’s influence grows

US President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that he will welcome African leaders to Washington in December, a new initiative to reach out to a continent where China’s influence is growing.

Biden said he would hold the summit from December 13 to 15 to “demonstrate the continued commitment of the United States to Africa.”

“The U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit will build on our common values ​​to better promote new economic engagement,” Biden said in a statement.

Biden said the meeting would also “strengthen the US and Africa’s commitment to democracy and human rights” and address the challenges of Covid-19 and future pandemics, as well as climate change and food security.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced the summit during a November visit to Nigeria, without giving a date.

The summit is taking place as China, which the Biden administration calls the US’s main rival, as well as Russia and Turkey, are dramatically increasing their presence in Africa.

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US foreign aid chief Samantha Power on Monday urged China to do more to address the global food crisis exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as she announced more than $1 billion in aid to avert famine in the scorched Horn of Africa.

China, bent on natural resources and skyrocketing spending on infrastructure, has increased investment in Africa by about 100 times since the Asian powerhouse’s integration into the world economy in 2000 and meets regularly with African leaders.

US allies France, Britain and Japan are also holding routine summit meetings with African leaders.

Biden did not specify the list of guests for the summit in Africa. When former President Barack Obama held a similar summit in 2014, he invited the vast majority of leaders but declined to include the Central African Republic, Eritrea, Sudan and Zimbabwe on grounds of human rights and democracy.

The summit marks a return of high-level US attention following the presidency of Donald Trump, who has made no secret of his lack of interest in sub-Saharan Africa.