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Leaders seek new era at EU-Africa summit

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Leaders seek new era at EU-Africa summit

Post by shammy on Sat Dec 08, 2007 3:20 pm

8th December,2007

Leaders of Europe and Africa opened a landmark summit Saturday designed to forge a new partnership of equals, but with strains showing over trade and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's presence.

"We are here to respond to an invitation from history... to write a new page in the history of Europe and Africa," Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates said in an inaugural address.

He welcomed the leaders to "a summit of equals" where some of the thorniest topics, such as human rights abuses and the conflict in Darfur, would be discussed.

"We will have a frank and open political dialogue where there are no taboos, no sacred cows," said Socrates, whose country holds the current European Union presidency.

Special debates have been scheduled on issues such as trade, security and human rights where Mugabe's record is expected to come under attack.

"Human rights are a universal heritage of humanity which we have to preserve and defend.... We have put human rights at the centre of not only our agenda but our strategy," he added.

The summit is only the second such gathering after an inaugural meeting in Cairo in 2000. Socrates said he was "well aware of the difficulties, obstacles that have to be overcome."

Ghana's President John Kufuor, the current chair of the African Union, acknowledged that history divided the two continents.

"For almost 500 years the relationship between our two continents has not been a happy one," he said.

"The real significance of the summit must be to lay the new foundations of a new partnership of mutual respect."


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Re: Leaders seek new era at EU-Africa summit

Post by shammy on Sun Dec 09, 2007 3:52 pm

9th December,2007

EU-African leaders to seal pact

European and African leaders will mark the end of a two-day summit in Lisbon by signing a pact promoting free trade and democracy.

The summit has been seen as an attempt by Europe to regain lost ground in Africa and combat growing Chinese influence on the continent.

But Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade told the leaders that Europe had almost lost the race for influence in Africa.

Controversy over Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe's presence has also dominated.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was tasked with voicing the EU's concerns about Zimbabwe, said Mr Mugabe's policies had "damaged Africa".

"The situation in Zimbabwe concerns us all, in Europe as in Africa," she said. "We don't have the right to look away when human rights are trampled on."

Previous efforts to hold EU-African summits have collapsed over the question of Mr Mugabe's attendance.

Although he is banned from the EU, African leaders demanded he be invited to attend. UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has boycotted the meeting in protest.

Mr Mugabe, who is still regarded by many African leaders as the heroic liberator of Zimbabwe, has not yet responded publicly to the remarks.

Ambitious agenda

The EU-Africa Strategic Partnership document, to be signed later, will outline joint policy aims in areas such as security, development and good governance.


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