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Bush, Malian President Toure Discuss Efforts to Combat Terrorism, AIDS


President Bush and Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure met at the White House to discuss efforts to combat terrorism, as well as AIDS and Malaria. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Mr. Bush leaves Friday for a week-long trip to Africa.

President Bush and President Toure say the United States and Mali are determined to block the spread of Islamic terrorism in Africa's Sahel region.

President Bush says he is pleased with Mali's cooperation.

"The president and I spent a fair amount of time talking about the dangers of radicals and extremists associated with groups like al-Qaida," he said. "And we talked about the need for close cooperation to protect the innocent people from those who murder the innocent in order to achieve their dark political vision."

President Toure says allowing Islamic radicalism to spread is not acceptable.

"I emphasized to the president and reaffirmed that Mali signed and Mali adheres to all different initiatives on the fight against terrorism," he said.

The two men spoke to reporters following an Oval Office meeting that also covered efforts to increase literacy and fight the spread of AIDS and Malaria.

President Bush says the United States is committed to boosting Mali's economy and reducing poverty through a five-year, more than $460-million compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

The MCC was created by President Bush to change much of the way U.S. assistance is distributed by creating longer-term financing for countries that demonstrate good-governance, rule of law, fiscal reform, and a commitment to spending on education and health care.

"It is a departure from traditional ways of doing development, which tend to be short-term and funded kind of on a year-by-year basis," said Jennifer Cooke, co-Director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a private policy research group in Washington. "MCC is an attempt to move beyond the short-term, to look longer term and have a longer funding window."

Cooke says the Millennium Challenge Corporation will feature prominently in the president's upcoming trip to Africa, as two of the countries he will visit - Tanzania and Ghana - are both participants.

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