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US drops Russia but invites Taiwan and 109 countries to the Democracy Summit

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Joe Biden has put the US back in the saddle in world affairs (Photo: IANS)

The US has invited around 110 countries to its virtual two-day democracy summit in December, including Taiwan but has kept Russia and China out.

The other notable country that has been kept out is Turkey--a NATO member.

From the Middle East, Israel and Iraq will join while traditional American allies--Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and the UAE have not been invited.

The two-day conference is scheduled for December 9-10.

The State Department website says: "President Biden will host a virtual summit for leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector. The summit will focus on challenges and opportunities facing democracies and will provide a platform for leaders to announce both individual and collective commitments, reforms, and initiatives to defend democracy and human rights at home and abroad".

Biden plans to follow up with the summit with a second one in less than a year.

Experts say that an invitation to Taiwan is certain to pull down the frosty US-China relations. The communist giant has mentioned in no uncertain terms that it considers Taiwan a part of its territory and will attack and merge it with the mainland. Over decades, it has sought to keep Taiwan out of the UN system and the international fora.

However, the US has been supporting Taiwan through military training, supplying weapons and by undertaking freedom of navigation (FONOP) around the South China Sea (SCS) in a bid to boost support for the tiny island nation.

Despite a massive list of 110 countries, the US had a hard time chalking out the list. Washington has invited Brazil even though President Jair Bolsonaro is considered far right and a firm supporter of previous US president Donald Trump.

India, Nepal and Maldives have been invited while Afghanistan and Myanmar have been dropped from the list with a change in their governments, which are now seen as anti-democratic forces headed by militants and military generals respectively.

From Africa, the US has invited Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Nigeria and Niger.

In Europe too, the US had to struggle with whom to drop and who to invite. Poland has been invited despite friction with the European Union over its human rights record while Hungary has been dropped.

Countries like Pakistan, Serbia and Angola have been invited not for their democratic record but in a bid to induce them towards a democratic shift.