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Bush to Visit Africa Next Year - 2002-06-20

President Bush is going to Africa next year. The White House says it is part of the president's vision for African development, which includes another $200 million for education.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says the president will travel to Africa in early 2003. Though there is no word yet on what countries he will visit or how long he will stay, Mr. Fleischer emphasized the president wants to increase trade.

"There are several nations within Africa that are surging in trade, and this represents important opportunities not only to help the people of these African nations to have a better chance of an economic future, it helps Americans too in creating jobs here at home as we trade more with Africa," he explained. "And so the president looks forward to visiting and we will announce to you the list of the specific countries later, closer to the trip, but the president looks forward to going to Africa to talk about some of these successes."

Mr. Bush will announce his travel to Africa in a speech late Thursday honoring the late anti-apartheid activist Leon Sullivan. He will also ask Congress to spend $200 million over the next five years on African education.

In cooperation with historically black U.S. colleges and universities, the money will provide more than four million textbooks, training for more than 420,000 new teachers. It will also be used to award scholarships to 250,000 girls.

The boost in spending on African education is the second increase in foreign assistance in as many days following the president's announcement Wednesday of a $500 million initiative to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus that causes AIDS.

The president's speech Thursday is also expected to include a review of U.S. involvement in efforts to end civil war in Sudan and a call for American business leaders to join in expanding trade under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which gives African merchants duty-free access to some American markets.

President Bush meets in Canada next week with leaders of other industrialized nations for a summit where Africa is expected to be a major focus.