Ahmadinejad pulls out of African summit

Comes amid concerns he'd divert conference's attention from Africa's pressing problems.

ahmadinejad construction site 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
ahmadinejad construction site 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad canceled a last-minute call to attend an African Union summit in Libya on Wednesday amid a stir among African delegates, who complained the contentious Iranian leader would divert the conference's attention from the continent's pressing problems. There was no immediate explanation from Iranian or Libyan officials present at the AU summit as to why Ahmadinejad didn't arrive at the summit as planned in Sirte, Libya. "All we know is that he isn't coming," said a Libyan official organizing the summit, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to be publicly named. Ahmadinejad's visit would have been one of his first major public appearances since his troubled re-election in June, which was marred by claims of massive fraud. Also absent Wednesday at the start of the 13th African Union summit of heads of state was Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Berlusconi, who is hosting a Group of Eight wealthy nations summit next week, canceled his attendance following a train crash and explosion in Italy that killed at least 16 people.