Egypt, Guinea Bissau invited to U.S.- Africa Summit

World Today

U.S.-Africa Summit (Logo taken from White House page on U.S.-Africa Summit)

Egypt and Guinea Bissau have now been invited to the U.S.-Africa Summit in Washington next month, after an initial White House Snub when the summit was announced in January.

Back in January, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty called the U.S. decision not to invite Cairo to a summit of African leaders “wrong and short-sighted.”

But Egypt’s membership in the African Union was suspended last July, after AU Commission head Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said that the the coup that ousted democratically-elected, President Mohammed Morsi qualified as an unconstitutional change of government under the union’s doctrine. 11 months later, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who launched the coup has been elected. Morsi supporters and secular dissidents boycotted the election.

But it was enough to reinstate Egypt to the African Union.

“We all think that the election was fair and he’s sworn in,” AU’s Peace and Security Commissioner, Smail Chergui told the AFP.

In a statement to CCTV America, National Security Spokesperson, Ned Price said, “When the invitations were first issued, both Egypt and Guinea Bissau were suspended from the AU. Upon their readmission to the AU, we made the decision to invite them.”

Guinea Bissau also regained its AU membership in June. It had been suspended following a military coup in 2012. The only African country that remains blocked from the AU is Central African Republic, which is not invited to the summit.

Western Sahara, Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Eritrea are also not invited. Price tells CCTV America, it’s because they are not in good standing with the United States government.

EGYPT: KEY U.S. ALLY

Relations between the United States and Egypt remain lukewarm. The United States announced in October it was cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in aid after the overthrow of Morsi, the nation’s first freely elected president, following large-scale popular protests demanding his removal.

On Jan. 14, Congress approved a spending bill that would restore $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt, but only on the condition that the Egyptian government ensures democratic reform.

Nonetheless, Egypt’s invitation comes at a time when violence between Israel and Gaza is heating up. In November 2012, Cairo played a key role in negotiating a cease-fire between the two sides. The White House has said it is pursuing a similar strategy in an effort to tamp down tensions there.

The AP and AFP contributed to this report.