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Canadian PM Impressed With African Development Plan - 2002-04-05

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien says he is impressed with the progress being made towards implementing an African development plan.

Mr. Chretien made the remarks Sunday after meeting with South African President Thabo Mbeki and other regional leaders in Pretoria.

Mr. Chretien, the current chairman of the group of the seven most industrialized nations plus Russia, is visiting Africa to discuss the New Partnership for Africa's Development, known as NEPAD.

He said NEPAD will be one of the top agendas at the June G-8 summit in Kananaskis, Canada.

The G-8 nations are Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and Russia.

Mr. Chretien says topics such as human rights, democracy the rule of law, transparency and good governance will be discussed at the G8 summit.

NEPAD outlines objectives of promoting democracy and good governance in Africa in return for Western economic assistance. It seeks to achieve an annual growth rate of seven-percent on the African continent by 2015.

South African President Mbeki said he is convinced that Africa is ready for NEPAD saying there has been definite progress toward democracy in the continent.

Later, Mr. Chretien and Mr. Mbeki were joined by presidents Festus Mogae of Botswana, Bakili Muluzu of Malawi, Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Sam Nujoma of Namibia, Benjamin Makapa of Tanzania and Vice President Enoch Kavindele of Zambia.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, who won re-election in disputed voting last month, was not invited.

Reuters news agency reports the Canadian prime minister who has already visited Morocco, Algeria and Nigeria on his six-nation tour will visit Ethiopia and Senegal after South Africa.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.