Biden announces Africa engagement council to include African Americans and immigrants

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President Biden has created a new advisory council to enhance dialogue between the African diaspora living in the U.S. and community and political leaders across Africa, a move announced as the White House hosts nearly 50 leaders from the continent for a three-day summit this week.

The administration hasn’t specified who will serve on the council, although Mr. Biden signed an executive order saying it will draw from the diaspora that “encompasses African Americans — including descendants of enslaved Africans — and nearly two million African immigrants who have close familial, social, and economic connections to the African continent.”

The president signed the order Tuesday ahead of diplomatic meetings surrounding the administration’s hosting this week of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. 

The summit gained momentum Wednesday, with Mr. Biden pushing a message that the United States can be a critical catalyst for economic and democratic development on the continent in the coming years.

The president is addressing U.S. and African business leaders and engaging in smaller meeting with African heads of state Wednesday. Mr. Biden and first lady Jill Biden are hosting dozens of African leaders and their spouses for a dinner at the White House Wednesday evening.

Analysts say the hope is to narrow a trust gap that has widened over years of frustration over America’s commitment to the continent. Mr. Biden’s push comes as the United States has fallen well behind China in investment in sub-Saharan Africa, which has become a key battleground in an increasingly fraught competition between Washington and Beijing.

The executive order creating the new President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement in the United States states that “African Americans have been foundational to strengthening United States-Africa relations and in shaping United States foreign policy toward Africa.”

This has included “actively advocating on the African continent’s behalf, even as they struggled for civil rights in the United States,” the order said.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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