Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb will head an Egyptian delegation to a three-day US-Africa Leaders Summit taking place in the United States’ capital Washington from 4 to 6 August.
He arrived Sunday along Minister of Finance Hany Kadry Dimian and the Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour in Washington.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi rejected the invite and sent Mehleb instead after Egypt received a late invitation from the United States on the background of its suspension from African Union (AU).Egypt’s African Union membership was suspended on 5 July, 2013, two days after president Mohamed Morsi was ousted by then defense minister Al-Sisi. Egypt was reinstated on 17 June to the AU, after 11 months of activity freeze.
“The USA had been fighting the return of Egypt’s role in the African Union,” said political thinker and former National Democratic Party member Mostafa Al-Feki.
Hani Raslan, African expert in at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said the suspension was only a cover for US hesitation to invite Egypt to the summit, and that even after the county was reinstated the invitation came in late.
“The president decided not to attend the summit since procedures did not include his meeting with the American president,” said Raslan.
He added that there has been torpor in Egypt’s relation with the US since the 30 June 2013 uprising which lead to Morsi’s ousting.
The White House describes the summit as the “largest single engagement by any US President with Africa”, that deals with “fostering stronger ties between the United States and Africa”.
“The US is striving to improve its position in the [African] continent in light of the competition over it the past two decades and China’s growing influence that has exceeded the American and Western influence,” said Raslan.
The US will announce nearly $1bn in business deals, increase funding for peacekeeping and commit billions of dollars to expand food and power programmes in Africa, reported Reuters.
Mehleb will be meeting heads of African states as well as US officials to discuss the challenges that are facing Egypt, said international relations expert Saeed Al-Lawendi.
Solving the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam problem tops the agenda, said Al-Lawendi. Ethiopia and Sudan are among the 51 states attending the summit.
“Egypt is directing a comprehensive project to develop Africa,” said Al-Feki, adding that the country is to create “a new network of interests in the region”.
Al-Feki believes that Egypt’s delegation to the summit will only target African issues, and that the Egyptian-US relations require a visit on their own, “Al-Sisi not going himself being proof of this”.
However, Al-Lawendi said that there would be talks between the Egyptian and American sides. He said that the Egyptian-US relations are tense after a State Department spokeswoman said on Thursday that Egypt used US weapons “against their own people”. He stressed that Egypt did not use the US aid to crackdown on protesters.
“Egypt wants to have balanced relations with all countries,” said Al-Lawendi.
Forums and conferences over the three-day summit will address human rights, conservation, health, business, and a dialogue session with US President Barack Obama. The summit will focus on the next generation, discussing ways of stimulating growth, unlocking opportunities, and creating an enabling environment for the next generation, said the State Department.