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Zuma, African leaders attend White House dinner

2014-08-06 07:19

Washington - Heads of state and representatives from the African continent were hosted by US President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday evening.

President Jacob Zuma attended the dinner, which was part of the US-Africa summit, with his second wife Nompumelelo Ntuli Zuma.

The president and First Lady, dressed in a black three-quarter skirt and black jacket with sequenced sleeves, walked up a red carpet laid out by the door of the North entrance to the White House.

They were met by the United States chief of protocol Peter Selfridge before climbing the stairs towards the door.

The two were asked to turn around, and waved as photographers from around the US and Africa snapped away.

International Relations Minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane was ushered into the White House through a side entrance.

Entertainment by Lionel Richie

According to a programme, American singer-songwriter Lionel Richie was set to entertain guests at the dinner.

Guests enjoyed a chilled spiced tomato soup with socca crisps and coriander oil and micro cilantro for starters.

This was followed by a chopped farmstand vegetable salad with sour cream dressing, crispy onions and pumpkinseed vinaigrette.

Mains consisted of grilled dry-aged beef with chermoula and crispy plantains, braised summer greens, sweet potatoes and coconut milk.

Dinner was topped off by cappuccino fudge cake, Madagascar vanilla scented papaya and salted caramel sauce.

AFP reported that the guest list included Hollywood actors Robert De Niro and 12 Years a Slave star Chiwetel Ejiofor. According to AFP, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest described it as a "formal dinner" rather than a state occasion.

Representatives of around 40 African countries were in Washington attending the summit, initiated by Obama after his visit to the content last year.

The summit was focused on encouraging trade between US and the African continent.

Middle East, Agoa

Earlier on Tuesday, Zuma met with US Vice President Joe Biden where the crisis in the Middle East was discussed.

Zuma told SABC that he was frank with Biden about how South Africa thought the situation in Gaza should be handled.

After his meeting with Biden, Zuma met with three US senators to discuss the future in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).

Agoa is a non-reciprocal prefer trial scheme, which applies only to US imports from eligible Sub-Saharan Africa countries.

Congress will decide next year whether to renew Agoa. South Africa wants it renewed for another 15 years.

Before The White House dinner, Zuma attended the US-Africa Business Forum where he took part in a panel discussion with the leaders from Tunisia, Senegal, Tanzania and Rwanda.

Obama addressed the business forum at the end of the day where he expressed support for the African continent and the renewal of Agoa.

"Even as Africa continues to face enormous challenges, even as too many Africans still endure poverty and conflict, hunger and disease, even as we work together to meet those challenges, we cannot lose sight of the new Africa that's emerging," he said.

Exciting opportunities

Obama said Africa had some of the most exciting opportunities because it had some of the fastest growing economies.

"As President, I've made it clear that the United States is determined to be a partner in Africa's success - a good partner, an equal partner, and a partner for the long term," he said to applause.

"We're going to keep working to renew the African Growth and Opportunity Act -- and enhance it."

The US was currently doing the majority of its trade in Africa with only three countries; South Africa, Nigeria and Angola.

Obama said he wanted to see Americans buying African products and Africans buying American products, however, the US would also help to increase trade between African countries.

"Let's create more and sell more and buy more from each other. I'm confident that we can," he said.

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