Obama to invite 47 leaders to US Africa summit in August

United States President Barack Obama speaks about the National Security Agency at the Justice Department, on Jan 17, 2014 in Washington, DC. Mr Obama will invite 47 leaders to a landmark US-Africa summit in August, seeking to widen US trade, dev
United States President Barack Obama speaks about the National Security Agency at the Justice Department, on Jan 17, 2014 in Washington, DC. Mr Obama will invite 47 leaders to a landmark US-Africa summit in August, seeking to widen US trade, development and security ties with an increasingly dynamic continent to which he traces part of his ancestry. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President Barack Obama will invite 47 leaders to a landmark US-Africa summit in August, seeking to widen US trade, development and security ties with an increasingly dynamic continent to which he traces part of his ancestry.

Mr Obama will send out invites to all African nations that are currently in good standing with the United States or are not suspended from the African Union - meaning there will be no place for states like Egypt or Zimbabwe.

Mr Obama will hold the talks on August 5 and 6, seeking to cement progress from his trip to Africa last year.

A White House statement said the trip would "advance the administration's focus on trade and investment in Africa, and highlight America's commitment to Africa's security, its democratic development, and its people." The idea for the summit, which takes place with Washington increasingly aware of China's attempt to enhance its diplomatic profile in Africa, was first announced by Mr Obama in a speech in Cape Town in June.

Egypt, which has caused the Obama administration to thread a foreign policy needle with an erstwhile ally after a military takeover, is not eligible to attend as it is currently suspended from the African Union.

The United States maintains sanctions against the Zimbabwean government of Mr Robert Mugabe and key officials over suppression of democracy and what Washington sees as politically motivated violence.

Other notable absentees on the invite list include Sudan and Madagascar.

One notable inclusion is Kenya, where President Uhuru Kenyatta is currently awaiting a delayed trial at the International Criminal Court on charges related to violence after an election in 2007 that left 1,000 people dead.

The indictment has been one of the reasons why Mr Obama is yet to visit the homeland of his late father as president.

But Mr Obama has spoken to Mr Kenyatta on the telephone, and the Kenyan leader has enjoyed more interaction with the outside world since a massacre at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi in September claimed by Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents.