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Bush Vows to Work for Free, Prosperous Africa - 2002-06-21

President Bush says he wants to build a new partnership with Africa, and vows to work for a continent that is prosperous and free. The president outlined his Africa policy in a Washington address Thursday evening.

The president said he is committed to helping Africa. "We will work in partnership with African nations and leaders for an African continent that lives in liberty and grows in prosperity," he said.

Mr. Bush said he will travel to Africa next year to promote that partnership. "It is going to be a great trip and I look forward to focusing on the challenges that we must face together," he said.

The president spoke at a dinner honoring the late anti-apartheid activist Leon Sullivan, and his announcement brought the crowd to its feet. Mr. Bush did not mention any country on his possible itinerary by name. But he joked with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo who was seated nearby. I think the president has in mind a particular stop," he said. "He is putting me on the spot here in front of all these cameras."

The president said no matter where he goes, he will focus on promoting trade and urging African nations to make the necessary economic reforms. "Trade is good for building prosperity in Africa and it is good for building the momentum of economic and political liberty across that important continent," he said.

Mr. Bush also used the opportunity to draw attention to efforts his administration is making to improve primary education and battle disease in Africa. He said he would double to $200 million funding for a program that helps provide teacher training, textbooks and scholarships. And he repeated his promise to provide hundreds of millions of dollars for anti-AIDS drugs and health care services to reduce the transmission of the disease from infected women to their infants.

In the final moments of his address, President Bush turned his attention to Africa's regional wars. He made specific mention of the conflict in Sudan."Since September 11, there is no question the government of Sudan has made some useful contributions in cracking down on terror. But Sudan can and must do more," he said.

The president said Sudan's government must understand that ending its sponsorship of terror outside the country is no substitute for ending the war within its own borders.