obama (us -africa summit)

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the “Investing in Africa’s Future” session during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., Aug. 6, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

(Via MSN News) – The United States can play a key role in empowering an Africa that is increasingly prosperous despite the continent’s deep and persistent challenges, President Barack Obama said Wednesday as an unprecedented summit aimed in part at fostering Obama’s own African legacy came to an end.

Hailing the three-day conference in Washington as a major success, Obama touted the roughly $37 billion in investments that were spurred by the summit. He said the U.S. and African nations would work to make the gathering of leaders a recurring event. More than 50 African heads of state and government were in Washington for the talks.

“Africa must know that they will always have a strong and reliable partner in the United States of America,” Obama said at a news conference marking the end of the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.

The president defended U.S. engagement with countries that have problematic records on human rights and corruption, arguing that America’s involvement can help spur those nations to do better. He said universal rights, good governance and the strengthening of civil societies were high priorities for the U.S. as it seeks to partner with Africa in the 21st century.

“We find that in some cases, engaging a country that generally is a good partner but is not performing optimally when it comes to all the various categories of human rights, that we can be effective in working with them on certain areas and criticizing them and trying to elicit improvements in other areas,” Obama said.

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