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Bush Focuses on Africa in G8 Lead-Up

President Bush is focusing on U.S. aid to Africa in the days leading up to the Group of Eight Summit in Germany. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports from the White House.

One day after urging a major increase in a U.S. program to fight AIDS, the president announced a new initiative to help African entrepreneurs.

In a speech to a coalition of groups concerned with international development, Mr. Bush said the United States will provide technical assistance to help African nations strengthen their financial markets. He said the goal is to create new private equity funds that will mobilize up to a billion dollars of additional private investment in Africa.

"It's in our interest that we help provide capital to African entrepreneurs," he said. "We want them to find access to capital, and we want them to have access to markets because we want to improve their lives."

President Bush also said he wants to make more money available for education programs in Africa and elsewhere. He said he is asking Congress to provide an additional $525 million over the next five years to bolster existing programs.

"And the goal is to provide basic education for four million additional children on the continent of Africa and across the globe," he said.

On Wednesday, Mr. Bush urged the U.S. Congress to take a major step in the fight against AIDS in Africa.

Next year, the mandate for the current five-year American program to combat AIDS abroad will expire. The president said he wants Congress to extend the program for another five years and to double the funding from $15 billion for five years to $30 billion.