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EU-Africa Summit Ends With Disagreement on Trade

  • VOA News

The two-day European Union-Africa summit has ended with leaders pledging to build stronger ties but squabbling over the issue of trade.

In angry comments to reporters Sunday, Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade said most African nations reject free trade deals being pushed by the European Union.

Mr. Wade said the deals are not in Africa's best interest, while EU leaders say they want negotiations to continue.

The two-day summit in Lisbon, Portugal, was designed to forge new cooperation between Africa and Europe. But the gathering was dominated by disputes over Zimbabwe, Darfur, and the proposed trade deals.

In a closing statement on Sunday, participants resolved to build a "partnership of equals" that moves past what they called the traditional donor-recipient relationship between Europe and Africa.

The EU is seeking new trade agreements to replace deals that were preferential to more than 70 poorer countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. The World Trade Organization has ruled those agreements to be illegal. Some African governments have argued that free trade with Europe would damage their economies.

On Saturday, summit participants voiced opposing views on Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said EU members are united in condemning human rights abuses and economic mismanagement by Zimbabwe's government. South African President Thabo Mbeki criticized Ms. Merkel's comments as interference in African affairs.

Leaders at the summit also discussed Sudan's resistance to non-African troops being in the planned UN-African Union force for Darfur. AU President John Kufuor said today he believes the force will be assembled.

The closing statement said the next EU-Africa summit will be held in 2010.
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