African Union welcomes Morsy’s participation in next summit

The African Union has welcomed the participation of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsy at the African Summit, to be held in Addis Ababa on July 15 and 16.

Morsy received an invitation last week for the upcoming summit, scheduled to be held on 17 July in Addis Ababa.

His acceptance could mark a new era for Egyptian engagement with African issues, condidered to have been neglected by former President Hosni Mubarak.

Mubarak informally boycotted the African Summit after he faced an assassination attempt in 26 June 1995, when gunmen attacked his car as he arrived at the summit in Addis Ababa. He escaped unhurt.

Jean Ping, chairperson of the African Union Commission, was quoted by Egypt's state news agency MENA Saturday as saying that he looks forward to meeting Morsy and discussing how to strengthen cooperation and relations between Egypt and other African countries, as well as asking his advice on cooperation and addressing current African issues.

He said Morsy is expected to deliver a speech at the opening session, as an African president recently elected in free elections.

Morsy will also hold meetings with other African leaders during the summit.

MENA also quoted Noureldin Mezni, the African Union spokesperson, as saying that that it is a great coincidence that Morsy's first visit as president is to the African summit.

He said it will mark a new era for Egypt's role in the African Union.

Mezni said Egypt plays a key role in the continent, in peacekeeping, humanitarian aid and training programs, and has a fine relationship with various African countries.

The 19th ordinary session of the Summit of the African Union was initially scheduled to take place in Lilongwe, Malawi, but Sudan requested that it be held in Ethiopia after Malawi tried to block Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, from attending.

He said that he looks forward to a new momentum in relations with Egypt after its first free elections, and the participation of Egypt's first civilian president will revieve a great welcome from the leaders of the African Union.

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