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US-Africa Summit: Obama Snubs Zimbabwe's Mugabe

US President Barack Obama.
U.S. President Barack Obama has snubbed President Robert Mugabe, inviting leaders of nearly 50 African countries to a landmark US-Africa summit seeking to widen trade, development and security ties between America and Africa.

The United States announced the summit late Tuesday but released a statement Wednesday with the list of Heads of State being invited to the August 5 and 6 meeting.

Assistant Press Secretary Jonathan Lalley says Mr. Obama will include all African Heads of State or governments, with the exception of those who are not in good standing with the U.S. or under African Union suspension.

Egypt, Sudan and Madagascar are the other countries that have not been invited.

Lalley says A.U. chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will also be invited to the meeting, which White House officials say Mr. Obama hopes to use to build on progress made since his June 2013 visit to Africa.

A White House statement said the trip would "advance the administration's focus on trade and investment in Africa, and highlight America's commitment to Africa's security, its democratic development, and its people."

President Mugabe was invited to a similar meeting in Japan last year when the Asian country set aside its sanctions against Mr. Mugabe allowing him to attend with other African leaders.

The United States maintains sanctions against Mr. Mugabe and close officials citing alleged election rigging, rights abuses and political violence. Harare says the co-called restrictive measures were put in place in retaliation to Mr. Mugabe's land reforms that saw thousands of white former commercial farmers losing their land.

The summit was announced by Mr. Obama in a speech in Cape Town in June. Analysts say Washington is worried by China's increasing economic and diplomatic profile in Africa and is upping its game to close a widening gap.

Kenya, whose President Uhuru Kenyatta is currently awaiting a delayed trial at the International Criminal Court on charges related to violence after the country’s violent 2007 election that left 1,000 people dead, has been invited to the U.S.-Africa summit.

The Zimbabwe government was yet to respond to the White House snub. Mr. Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba, did not answer his mobile phone.