, WASHINGTON, Aug 5 – The United States urged African leaders on Monday to respect political differences, saying that core democratic principles are vital to achieving long-term economic growth.
The call came at the start of an unprecedented US-Africa summit in Washington attended by 35 presidents, nine prime ministers, three vice presidents, two foreign ministers and a king.
The three-day program of talks marks one of President Barack Obama’s biggest initiatives for Africa, against the backdrop of an Ebola outbreak and several security crises on the continent.
Washington is seeking stronger economic ties with Africa, having found itself outpaced by China and Europe on a continent where the International Monetary Fund expects to see 5.4 percent growth this year and 5.8 the next.
But, in a sharp contrast to China’s business-first approach, US leaders first addressed democracy and civil rights concerns. READ: Waiguru pledges greater civil society ties at US Summit.
Vice President Joe Biden met African civil rights leaders and encouraged them to fight corruption.
“It’s a cancer in Africa as well as around the world. Widespread corruption is an affront to the dignity of its people and a direct threat to each of your nations’ stability, all nations’ stability,” Biden said.