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Bush:  US-Ghana Ties Strong and Enduring

U.S. President George Bush is hosting Ghana's President John Kufour on an official state visit to Washington. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

President Bush and President Kufour walked through a ceremonial inspection of American troops watched by hundreds of people, many in brightly-colored African cloth.

President Bush says the ties of friendship between Ghana and the United States are strong and enduring.

"Today, Ghana and America are still bound by our love for liberty, and we stand as one in our efforts to safeguard that freedom. Ghana and America stand as one as we work to secure freedom from poverty. Ghana's leaders are governing justly, fighting corruption, and investing in their people. And America is proud to support these efforts through our Millennium Challenge Compact."

The Untied States has a five-year, $547 million compact with Ghana aimed at reducing poverty by raising agricultural incomes through private-sector-led development.

President Bush created the Millennium Challenge fund to redirect U.S. aid to countries that practice good governance, respect for the rule of law, open markets, and investment in health and education.

Commercial ties between Ghana and the United States are up more than 55 percent since President Bush and President Kufour took office - last year totaling more than $600 million.

President Kufour thanked the president for extending the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which allows Ghanaian businesses duty- and quota-free access to U.S. markets for more than six-thousand kinds of goods. He says the country is hoping for additional U.S. investment in Ghana's emerging oil sector after a U.S. firm made Ghana's first major find last year.

President Kufour says the enduring strength of his government is its commitment to good governance and its promotion of the private sector as the main engine for economic growth.

"These principles have gained for Ghana international recognition as a stable and transparent nation, attractive for increased economic investments and activities - and that translates into general improvements in the lives of her people," he said.

Both men are nearing the end of their presidencies with U.S. elections in November and Ghanaian elections in December.

President Bush says Ghana is in the middle of a lively election season marked by spirited debate and close-fought contests, similar to America's presidential race.

"Whatever the outcome, Ghana is showing Africa that democracy is not a challenge to be feared, but a sure path to prosperity and peace," he said. "Ghana and America stand as one in our work to promote peace. Ghana is a vital partner in our efforts to resolve the crisis in Darfur. Ghana has more than 3,000 peacekeepers serving around the world - from Liberia and the Congo to Kosovo and Georgia."

President Kufour says Ghana is committed to the rule of law and respect for the different cultures of democracy.

"My government is fully committed to supporting the conduct of a free and fair electoral process in the impending presidential and parliamentary elections this coming December, to which we welcome international observers," he said.

The president and Mrs. Bush will hold a state dinner in honor of Ghana's President and first lady, returning the courtesy shown Mr. and Mrs. Bush during their visit to Ghana in February.

At that dinner, President Kufour renamed a main road in the capital the George Bush Motorway.

Welcoming the president to the White House, Mr. Bush joked that he looks forward to visiting Accra again once he is out of office so he can see the highway without stopping so much traffic.