Obama to welcome African leaders for dinner

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Will there be “Dancing on the Ceiling” at a White House dinner for African leaders and will it go “All Night Long?”

Both are likely with award-winning singer Lionel Richie set to headline Tuesday’s formal dinner for heads of state and government representing nearly 50 African countries. The leaders are in Washington to attend President Barack Obama’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, which opened Monday. “Dancing on the Ceiling” and “All Night Long” are two of Richie’s hit singles.

A guest list topping out at about 400 people makes it the largest dinner to be held by Obama and first lady Michelle Obama. But as large as the White House is, it still cannot accommodate such a big group and so both the four-course dinner and the entertainment are being served up in a massive tent erected on the South Lawn.

Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, who last month visited Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone, were expected to attend, along with Obama administration officials, members of the delegations accompanying the African leaders, members of Congress, U.S. business leaders and others.

“The president is looking forward to hosting them here at the White House tonight for a dinner that, at least for a brief period of time in their visit here to the United States, they won’t be focused on business and will have an opportunity to hopefully have a little bit of fun,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Before going to the dinner, Obama was addressing a U.S.-Africa business forum Tuesday afternoon. He is also scheduled to participate in summit meetings on Wednesday, the final day of the conference, which is focused on boosting U.S business, security and other partnerships with the continent.

After guests arrive at the White House and greet Obama, they will board trolley cars and be driven down to the South Lawn. Obama will deliver a toast before the largely American dinner with hints of Africa in each course is served.

Guests will dine on chilled spiced tomato soup and socca crisps, which are made of chick peas; chopped farm-stand vegetable salad, including produce from the first lady’s garden; and grilled dry-aged Wagyu beef served with chermoula, a marinade used in North African cooking, sweet potatoes and coconut milk.

Dessert is cappuccino fudge cake dressed with papaya scented with vanilla from Madagascar and salted caramel sauce.

American wines are on the menu.

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Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap

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