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White House Defends Obama Meeting with Gabon President


President of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba speaks in the U.N. General Assembly during high-level meetings on HIV/AIDS on Wednesday, June 8, 2011

President of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba speaks in the U.N. General Assembly during high-level meetings on HIV/AIDS on Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The White House has defended President Barack Obama's decision to meet Gabon's president despite corruption accusations leveled against him. Mr. Obama meets with Gabon President Ali Bongo at the White House Thursday, after welcoming Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the invitation to Mr. Bongo was appropriate because Gabon has been an important ally at the United Nations, voting with the United States on issues like Ivory Coast, Libya and Iran.

Gabon holds this month's rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council.

The White House spokesman, however, said Washington is concerned about human rights issues and argued that Mr. Bongo had made several reforms to improve the situation in his country.

Mr. Obama met Wednesday with Nigeria's president to discuss regional and global developments.

Mr. Jonathan addressed a United Nations conference on AIDS this week calling for a "final solution" to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which has now raged for 30 years.

He said that as the largest contributor to peacekeeping in Africa, Nigeria has a "major stake" in ensuring that its armed forces are protected against HIV and AIDS, and are given adequate treatment.

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