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Historic Russia-Africa Summit Begins, Defying Western Predictions of Failure

July 26, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—The Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum in St. Petersburg, whose motto is “for Peace, Security and Development,” officially takes place July 27-28 with an exciting two-day agenda of panels and topics of discussion on issues of great relevance to the development of Africa in such crucial areas as infrastructure building, nuclear technology, space innovation, food sovereignty and putting an end to the era of colonialism. Today saw a flurry of activity as delegations from 49 countries began to arrive, 21 of them led by heads of state or government. TASS reports that in addition to the national leaders, another 17 countries will be represented by deputy prime ministers and foreign ministers and 5 by ambassadors. Representatives of several African organizations and financial and trade institutions are also attending.

Predictably, Western media howled that this summit would be a failure, as the number of heads of state had dropped from the 43 who attended the first Russia-Africa summit in 2019. The Financial Times gloated on July 25 that this “is a blow for Putin.” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov replied that the number of leaders attending had indeed been reduced, in part because of their work schedules, but also due to the “absolutely blatant, obnoxious interference by the U.S., France and other countries through their diplomatic missions in African countries and attempts to put pressure on the leadership of these countries in order to prevent their active participation in this forum.”

Today’s activities included the welcome speech given by President Vladimir Putin to guests and participants (see separate slug) and his first very cordial bilateral meetings held with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, as well as with Dilma Rousseff, president of the BRICS New Development Bank. Over the next four days, Putin intends to meet personally with each of the heads of state attending. He will give the opening speech to the plenary of the Russia-Africa Forum, and to the Economic and Humanitarian Forum tomorrow.

Presidential aide Yury Ushakov explained that Putin’s opening speech to the Russia-Africa Forum “will provide his assessment of the state of the international relations system, including the establishment of a new world order, based on the principles of multipolarity and equality of all sovereign states.” The focus will be on the “perspective of further development of relations between Russia and Africa with an emphasis on Russia’s assistance to sovereign national development of African states, on ensuring fair access to food, fertilizer, modern technologies and energy.”

The agenda for the two-day summit is impressive, with both the Russia-Africa Forum and the Economic and Humanitarian Forum held simultaneously, the latter geared toward business sectors and entrepreneurs, under the heading “Technology and Security for Sovereign Development That Benefits People.” Each of its four sections appearing under that title include panels entitled “Nuclear Technologies for African Development,” “EAEU-Africa: Horizons of Cooperation,” “Achieving Technological Sovereignty Through Industrial Cooperation,” “New World Order: from the Legacy of Colonialism to Sovereignty and Development” and “Russia-Africa: Partnership for Food Sovereignty,” among many others.

Putin will be meeting with the leaders of Mozambique, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Eritrea, Central African Republic, Libya, Cameroon, Senegal, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, and Congo. Following the summit, he will have a working lunch with the leaders of African countries participating in the Ukrainian peace initiative, including official delegations from South Africa, the Comoros, Congo, Egypt, Senegal, Uganda and Zambia.

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