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Bush and Mbeki Discuss Sudan, Zimbabwe

President Bush says he is continuing to support African efforts to end violence and hunger in Southern Sudan. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Mr. Bush and South African President Thabo Mbeki also discussed the need for political and economic reforms in Zimbabwe.

Thabo Mbeki, left, looks towards George Bush during their meeting in Oval Office
President Bush says America is continuing to provide logistical support for African Union troops trying to keep the peace in Southern Sudan. Mr. Bush says he is working with NATO to help position those peacekeepers so relief supplies can reach hundreds of thousands of refugees in Darfur.

Following talks in the Oval Office, South African President Mbeki says that is just the sort of help African leaders want.

"Certainly from the African perspective, we would not say that we want deployment of U.S. troops in Darfur. We don't. On the continent, we've got the people to do this, military, police, and other so long as we get this logistical support," Mr. Mbeki said.

President Bush says the South African leader gave him a briefing on regional efforts to help end the political crisis in Zimbabwe, where Washington says April legislative elections were neither free nor fair.

"Obviously, we are concerned about a leadership that does not adhere to democratic principles, and obviously concerned about a country that was able to, for example, feed itself and now has to import food as an example of the consequence of not adhering to democratic principles," he said.

President Mbeki says he told Mr. Bush that African leaders are working with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition leaders to encourage them to look at changing the constitution and the legislature to create the political basis for a stable, democratic system.

"What is really critically important is to see in what ways we can support the opposition party and the ruling party in Zimbabwe to overcome their problems," he said. "And clearly one of the critically important things to do is to make sure that you have the political arrangements that address matters of the rule of law."

President Mbeki urged President Bush and other world leaders to address African development issues at next month's G-8 summit of leading industrial nations in Scotland, saying the meeting could deliver a very strong, positive message about moving Africa away from poverty, underdevelopment and conflict.

President Bush says he is working with European leaders to encourage democratic principles, rule of law and respect for human rights in Africa, but remains opposed to a European plan to boost development aid through aviation taxes or bond guarantees.

Asked about the international finance elements of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Commission for Africa report, Mr. Bush told President Mbeki that the funding does not fit Washington's budgetary process.