Libyan leader Moammar Gaddhafi and President Obama at

the G8 Summit in L'aquila Italy, July 9.



La Stampa, Italy

'Historic Handshake' for Ghaddafi and 'Obama the African'


"Ghaddafi's arrival at the summit in a cortege of limousines and garbed in a red-and gold-flecked tunic coincided with Obama's announcement of a climate-change agreement with emerging economies. … This was the very first handshake between Ghaddafi and a president of the United States."


By Maurizio Molinari



Translated By Enrico Del Sero


July 10, 2009


Italy - La Stamp - Original Article (Italian)

President Obama and South African President Jacob Zuma: Zuma provided some heavy-duty help to Obama with some of the larger emerging economies - but still no deal woth India and China on reducing CO2 emissions.


BBC NEWS VIDEO: People of Ghana 'enormously proud' as President Obama and his family arrive, June 11, 00:02:17WindowsVideo

L'AQUILA: Two handshakes with Muammar Ghaddafi at the dinner for leaders at l'Aquila, today's meeting with [Pope] Benedict XVI on fighting AIDS and poverty, putting the final touches on tomorrow's program in Accra [Ghana] and the agreement on trade and climate change with South African President Jacob Zuma: all of this describes Barack Obama's multi-pronged effort to build a new relationship with Africa.



The two handshakes with the Libyan colonel took place during a dinner hosted by the president of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, at which Obama and Ghaddafi sat on either side of Silvio Berlusconi. When they first met, Obama immediately reached over to Ghaddafi, and then during dinner, the American president stood up and again reached over to Tripoli's leader. This was the very first handshake between Ghaddafi and a president of the United States. Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough, had anticipated the event earlier when he said, "He doesn't intend to choose which leaders he'll shake hands with and which he won't: he'll be very happy to greet everyone he meets," and that, in Ghaddafi's case, America's interests lies in wanting,  wants to see cooperation with Libya continue in sectors such as Tripoli's decision a few years ago to give up its nuclear program," while continuing to express his concerns," with respect to Tripoli's unpredictable political policies."


On the other hand, Libya now has normal relations with the United States and Ghaddafi, who in his capacity as president of the African Union is a natural interlocutor for Washington, particularly with U.S. special envoy for Darfur, Scott Gration, trying and accelerate the deployment of an inter-African peacekeeping force to defend civilian populations threatened by raiders backed by the Sudan government.


Ghaddafi's arrival at the summit in a cortège of limousines and garbed in a red-and gold-flecked tunic coincided with Obama's announcement of a climate-change agreement with emerging economies, which owes much to an understanding with South Africa President Jacob Zuma, who during a morning meeting offered the White House a dual commitment: to less resistance from developing countries for both a radical reduction in polluting gas emissions and help in ending the deadlock at the Doha round of international trade talks. Chats with Zuma also involved the 2010 Football World Cup - Obama wants to go - and his visit to Ghana, the first of his presidency to sub-Saharan Africa.



President Barack Obama addresses Ghana's Parliament in

Accra, Ghana, July 11.



"Saturday's speech to the parliament in Accra," anticipated Michelle Gavin, a White House counselor for African affairs, "will serve to underline the importance of good governance and democracy, since Ghana is a truly admirable example of a place where governance is getting stronger, a thriving democracy. They just had an extraordinarily close election at the end of last year, decided ultimately by about 40,000 votes."


To give maximum exposure to the message being sent to the continent where Obama's father was born, the White House staff has been working without interruption: all embassies in African countries have mobilized to disseminate it and collect local reactions, similar to what occurred in Muslim countries on the occasion of Obama's Cairo speech. In Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya, one can text message the White House on mobile phone numbers for locals to, "suggest what to say to Obama."


Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddhafi comments on U.S. democracy and 'Kenyan brother' Barack Obama, at a ceremony marking the 38th anniversary of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Libya, June 11, 2008.


Al-Jazeera TV, Qatar: Qaddhafi warns that Obama Suffers Inferiority Complex That Might Make Him Behave 'Whiter Than the White,' June 11, 2008, 00:07:43RealVideo

The tremendous interest in the mission to Accra prompted a change in itinerary: before leaving for Washington late on Saturday evening, a “departure ceremony” will be held at Accra's airport with thousands of people, folk dancing and West-African tribal music. Africa will also be a topic of discussion during Obama's meeting with Benedict XVI. Denis McDonough says, "The Pope and the president have much in common with regard to Africa, the struggle against AIDS and the desire to mobilize the international community against the scourge of poverty." It's no coincidence that White House spokesman Robert Gibbs listed "among the successes in the summit," the fact that they've been able to get the planet's richest countries to share a commitment to provide $12 billion in aid over the next three years.  



Ghanaian Web, Ghana: Mr. Obama: It's Time for America to Give Back to Africa
The Ghanaian Chronicle, Ghana: Ghana Should 'Cash In' on Obama's Visit
The Ghanaian Times: 'Why Obama Snubbed Nigeria'
The Daily Sun, Nigeria: The 'Stoning' of President Barack Hussein Obama
This Day, Nigeria: Obama's Choice to Visit Ghana and Not Nigeria Should Be a Lesson to Us

Boobab, Nigeria: If Obama Comes to Nigeria, 'I Will Stone Him'


As the day drew to a close and with Obama still sitting at the table with leaders over dinner, Michelle Gavin continued to work on the Africa issue - and kept on doing so for another 48 hours. Her face betrayed fatigue and stress, but there's one thing she kept on saying: "What makes Obama's approach to Africa different from previous presidents is the decision to include it in the broader foreign policy agenda, so we decided to stop over in Accra shortly after the G8," in contrast to Clinton and George W. Bush, "who went to Africa on isolated trips," thus giving the impression that it was a continent disconnected from the rest of the planet. That's another reason that at yesterday's dinner, African leaders scrambled to shake hands with Barack.



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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US July 12, 10:18pm]