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Senegal Officials Seek Concrete Economic Results from EU-AU Summit

European Union officials say plans are in place for a joint European Union-African Union summit to be held later this year. However, Senegalese officials said in a meeting with EU leaders in Dakar late Wednesday that they want to be sure the summit, to be held in Lisbon, Portugal, will bring concrete results to Africa and not just pledges and promises. Kari Barber reports for VOA from Senegal's capital.

EU Minister of State and Foreign Affairs Luis Amado, speaking in Dakar, said important decisions were made in Accra, where a summit planning meeting was held this week about the future of relations between the African Union and the European Union.

He said the relationship should develop into a more equal partnership.

Amado met with Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade and with the country's Minister of Foreign Affairs Cheikh Tidiane Gadio.

Gadio, speaking on behalf of President Wade, says Senegal wants assurances that December's joint summit will bring real development to the continent.

Gadio says if the summit turns out to be a meeting where only declarations are made, it will not be good for Africa - Europe relations.

Gadio says Senegal's government wants to know which concrete results it will be able to announce after the summit, especially in the area of infrastructure.

Gadio says Senegal is still not happy with the terms of a proposed new economic trade deal between Europe and West Africa which is supposed to be confirmed by year end.

Many fear the new deal will open African markets to cheap goods from Europe, stunting Africa's already struggling industries.

Gadio is calling for a postponement, echoing a call from the Economic Community of West African States.

Meeting Africa's energy needs and climate change are also expected to be a main topic at the summit.

The summit has stirred controversy since British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he will not attend the summit if Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe attends. Mr. Mugabe is accused of human rights violations and political repression. EU officials said this week that an invitation would be sent to Mr. Mugabe, a decision backed by the African Union.

As European countries seek to solidify their relationship with Africa in response to China's growing influence, Senegalese Minister Gadio says he believes the summit, scheduled for December 8 and 9, could play a critical role in determining the future of EU and AU relations.