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Obama Praises African Leaders for Democratic, Economic Gains

U.S. President Barack Obama hosted the leaders of Cape Verde, Malawi, Senegal and Sierra Leone at the White House Thursday, praising their countries' economic strides and progress in strengthening democratic rule.

Mr. Obama noted that all of his African guests faced difficult political challenges at home, but said those struggles -- including Sierra Leone's civil war, Malawi's recent constitutional crisis and political turmoil in Senegal -- had been largely supplanted by stability and economic progress.

Leaders at the meeting included Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma, Senegalese President Macky Sall, Prime Minister Jose Maria Pereira Neves of Cape Verde and President Joyce Banda of Malawi.

Mr. Obama hosted a similar meeting in 2011 with the leaders of Benin, Guinea, Ivory Coast and Niger, ahead of the 2012 release of a U.S. blueprint for boosting economic and political cooperation with countries of sub-Saharan Africa.

At the time, the Obama administration said its new Africa strategy would build on what it called its "numerous" contributions in sub-Saharan Africa, including U.S. assistance in ending political violence in Ivory Coast and Kenya, and its work toward bringing peace to Sudan and a degree of stability to war-torn Somalia.

The strategy committed the United States to increasing trade and investment in Sub-Saharan Africa by promoting regional integration, expanding African access to global markets and encouraging U.S. investment in the vast region.

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