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    Bush Departs on Five-Nation Africa Tour

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    President Bush has embarked on a five-nation trip to Africa to promote democratic reform and economic advancement, and to review progress made in fighting disease. From the White House, VOA's Michael Bowman reports.

    For years, critics of U.S. foreign policy under President Bush have complained that the United States has focused on Iraq and Afghanistan to the virtual exclusion of the rest of the world. Not so say administration officials, and they point to Africa as a key example of positive U.S. engagement in the developing world.

    In recent years, President Bush has directed billions of dollars in U.S. assistance to fighting HIV/AIDS and other diseases in Africa and elsewhere. The president says those funds are producing concrete results, which he will highlight in coming days as he visits Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia.

    "The American people are compassionate people, decent people, who want to help moms deal with malaria, or families deal with HIV/AIDS, and the need to feed the hungry," he said.

    Mr. Bush was speaking at the White House before his departure.

    The administration projects overall U.S. aid to Africa will double in 2010 from the levels recorded just four years ago. In addition to fighting disease, the United States is focusing on trade initiatives and economic growth programs, debt relief, food assistance, and efforts to promote primary education.

    President Bush has also spoken out on the massive bloodletting in Sudan's Darfur region, and called for an end to violence in Kenya.

     

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