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President Bush Reported Ready to Call for Extension of AIDS Relief Program

President Bush is reported ready to ask the U.S. Congress to provide an additional $30 billion towards battling the worldwide HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The Washington Post says says Mr. Bush will make the call during a White House ceremony Wednesday. The money will double the president's initial $15 billion pledge made in his 2003 State of the Union address.

The mandate for the President's Emergency Program for AIDS Relief expires in September 2008. Mr. Bush will ask Congress to extend that for another five years.

Quoting senior administration officials, the newspaper says the increase will provide lifesaving treatment to more than two million people.

The program currently allocates $10 billion to initiatives in 15 "focus countries" that are among most severely affected by AIDS.

The focus countries include the African nations of Botswana, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Guyana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda, plus Haiti, Guyana and Vietnam.

The other $5 billion is devoted to initiatives in the rest of the developing world, and to support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.