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US-Africa Summit can’t disrupt Russia-Africa co-operation, Dirco says

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Picture: Sergei Chirikov/Pool/ AFP – Russian President Vladimir Putin, centre, gestures as Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (1st row, 2nd left) and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (2nd right) pose for a family photo with African countries leaders attending 2019 Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum in Sochi, in October 24, 2019. Moscow does not believe that the US-Africa Summit will hamper co-operation between Russia and Africa, the writer says.

By Petr Baryshnikov

The US-Africa Summit will be held in Washington DC from December 13 to 15. According to the White House, the forum, which involves 49 delegations from African countries and one from the African Union, will be dedicated to strengthening ties between the United States (US) and the region’s states to advance common interests.

Moscow does not believe that the US-Africa Summit will hamper co-operation between Russia and Africa, Russian deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told the media.

“Such summits have been held by the Chinese, the Turks, the European Union and some other countries. I think that this is all routine; it has been adopted by many countries. We will now hold the second such summit. This is a very useful format. The important thing is the basis these relations are built on. We are building them on the basis of equality and mutual respect, and how other countries, especially western countries, will do the work – I think the Africans will figure it out,” the diplomat said.

He also noted that Russia is “interested” in how the US-Africa Summit progresses, its “substantive content, discussions and the final document”, so Moscow “will be watching closely”.

Previously, in an interview with Sputnik, experts described the forthcoming US-Africa Summit as a desperate attempt to counter growing Chinese influence in Africa, with Beijing being the Continent’s largest trading partner and direct investor.

Co-operation between Russia and Africa has also become more active in recent years. In 2019, the first Russia-Africa forum took place in Sochi; the second one is scheduled for July 2023. Oleg Ozerov, Ambassador at Large of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expressed his hope that the summit will bring Russian-African relations “to a different level of interaction”, noting that “most African countries perceive Russia as an ally against Western neo-colonial domination”.

Petr Baryshnikov is a Moscow-based Sputnik correspondent specialising in African studies, foreign affairs and social issues.

This article was first published on Sputnik