OAU And EU Plan To Hold Summit

LONDON- UK (PANA) -- The OAU and European Union are to hold their first ever summit as part of a new initiative to halt Africa's marginalisation in international affairs, the British Foreign Office Minister of State, Peter Hain, has announced.
He promised that the meeting would not be "another talking shop.
" It would be "an opportunity to address together the real challenges facing Africa: building lasting peace, prosperity and democracy," he said.
Hain noted that Africa still suffered from international policy neglect and was "manipulated by both sides through proxy wars and client states during the Cold War, at its end, both West and East virtually turned their backs.
" "No longer an arena for surrogate battles between big powers, Africa was callously sidelined as strategically unimportant to the USA, Europe, Russia and China," he stressed.
"Yet - common humanitarianism aside - the success of Africa is vital to Western interests," he added.
"Its success would create a much safer, more environmentally sustainable world.
It would reduce aid budgets and the UN's budget.
''It would open up new markets and it would remove havens for terrorism that will increasingly threaten the West.
" Hain, who was born in Kenya and brought up in Pretoria, South Africa, was speaking at the ongoing Challenges for Governance in Africa conference in West Sussex.
It is being attended by top African government officials, including the vice-president of Ghana, John Atta Mills.
Hain noted that the traditional rivalry between Britain and France in Africa had been put aside as the two former colonial masters tried to work together for a more successful African continent.
"We have done what many people thought impossible.
We have agreed with the French that we should work together in Africa," Hain said.
"We now have the aims.
And we now have the same friends - not English speakers or French speakers, but those who stand up for democracy and the interests of the people.
" He pointed out that when British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and his French counterpart, Hubert Vedrine, made their joint visit to Africa in early 1999, "it was truly historic, because it marked the end of more than 150 years of rivalry that did no one any good, least of all the people on whose behalf we so often said we are acting.
" Hain's parents fought against apartheid and when they were forced to leave South Africa, he joined the fight for freedom when they came to London.

14 september 1999 09:29:00

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