India-Africa Summit: 50 African leaders set to attend

New Delhi, Aug 20 (IANS) With parliament session over, 15 special envoys are again headed for Africa to complete the invitations for the Third India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) being held here in late October. More than 30 African countries have been invited, and about 20 more remain.

The feedback so far from the 30 plus countries has been positive and the government is expecting around 50 African leaders to attend the October 26-30 mega event. The African continent has a total of 54 countries.

One factor that would come in the way of some African leaders attending the summit is the election season in some African countries – Tanzania and Cote d”Ivoire would be in the midst of presidential elections, while the Central African Republic would have just got over with a presidential election. In Guinea and Burkina Faso too presidential elections would have got over only on October 11.

However, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete is set to attend as he is not running for president. Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi, who was in India earlier this month and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is likely to send a senior representative in the form of his prime minister.

Of the 54 African countries, only Libya has been left out due to the instability there with the Islamic State gaining ground over its territory fractured by civil war and internecine conflict.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is heading to Egypt early next week during which she is expected to meet President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi. Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, who earlier this month went to Cairo to attend the New Suez Canal opening, reiterated the invitation that was earlier delivered by Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

Sushma Swaraj will also be meeting Nabil Elaraby, an Egyptian diplomat who is the secretary general of the Arab League with headquarters in Cairo. The Arab League, which has 22 members, also works in close connect with the African Union. The Afro-Arab Summit is held every three years.

The Third IAFS is set to be the largest gathering of foreign leaders in India since the Non-Aligned Summit in New Delhi in 1983 and the Commonwealth Summit the same year.

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