President Bush says the United States has no plans to build new military bases in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Mr. Bush is in Ghana where he is trying to head off concerns about the creation a new U.S. military command for Africa.
President Bush says the new command structure known as AFRICOM is unique because it is meant to help African armies better respond to conflict without the need for outside forces.
"The purpose of this is not to add military bases," he said. "I know there are rumors in Ghana: all Bush is coming to do is to try and convince you to put a big military base here. That's baloney. Or as we say in Texas, that's bull."
Libya, Nigeria, and South Africa say they have serious reservations about the new command because it would expand American military influence and could draw Africa further into the U.S. fight against terrorism.
AFRICOM was created last October to better coordinate U.S. military operations that had been split among three other regional commands. It is currently based in Europe, and may open an office in Africa. But President Bush says that does not mean a new base.
In a press conference with the American leader, Ghanaian President John Kufuor said he was happy to hear Mr. Bush dispel any notion of new U.S. bases in Africa.
"I believe the explanation the president has given should put paid to the speculation so that the relationship between us and the United States will grow stronger and with mutual respect," Mr. Kufuor said.
So far, only Liberia has publicly expressed an interest in hosting AFRICOM headquarters. President Bush says he is seriously considering that request and will discuss it further with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf during talks in Monrovia Thursday.