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Bush Praises Visiting Haitian President's Accomplishments in Strife-Torn Country


U.S. President George Bush and Haitian President Rene Preval met at the White House Tuesday to discuss improving security and the investment climate in Haiti. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

Following their Oval Office talks, President Bush said there is still work to be done in Haiti, but he praised President Preval's courage, saying he has made progress on many fronts in what Mr. Bush called one of the toughest jobs in the world.

"The security situation is improving somewhat, and the United States supports the U.N. mission in Haiti. The economy is improving. Inflation is down. Exports are up. There is still a lot of work to be done, and Mr. President, I praise your efforts on establishing rule of law and routing out corruption, and the United States wants to help you," he said.

The two leaders discussed the fate of Haitians living in the United States illegally, and President Bush said he is determined to get a comprehensive immigration reform bill through the U.S. Congress this year.

President Preval has worked to improve conditions in Haiti since Jean-Bertrand Aristide was driven from power three years ago.

President Preval said Haiti welcomes foreign investment because Haitians need jobs. "Peace has been restored, and the conditions for investment are here. Haiti is awaiting American investors. We have opened a campaign to fight against corruption and contraband so that all can be on a level playing field and conditions for competition can be right," he said.

President Preval thanked the United States for its help in fighting the spread of the AIDS virus and in combating the trade in illegal drugs.

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