The presidents and other top officials from the three nations considered Ground Zero for the deadly Ebola virus are still planning to attend President Obama’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit next week, adding another layer of concern to a world meeting expected to gridlock Washington for three days.
At least one of those leaders attending the Sunday-Wednesday summit, Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan, is bringing a 73-person entourage. Those from Guinea and Liberia are also expected to be large.
While the travel of the entourages and support staff such as jet crews is naturally raising concerns, the White House tamped down worries and said the summit will go on.
“In terms of the summit, I would tell you that we’re working closely with regional governments to stem the spread of the virus. We have no plans to change any elements of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, as we believe all air travel continues to be safe here,” said spokesman Eric Schultz on Air Force One as the president returned home Wednesday.
Ebola has struck in all three nations. In Liberia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said she will stay home but send Vice President Joseph Boakai instead.
Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo wants to discuss regional security and energy at the summit.
Nigeria’s Jonathan had hoped to meet one-on-one with Obama but was turned down.
And Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma cancelled his trip so that he could deal with the emergency.
Meanwhile, District police and U.S. Secret Service are warning that parts of downtown Washington will be shut down at times during the summit and airspace will be limited.Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.