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Getting African Support For The US War On Terrorism - 2002-11-13

As the United States analyzes the latest bin Laden tape, a South African analyst says the Bush administration would do well to seek African help in its war on terrorism. But he says the Bush administration needs to do a better job of getting its message across.

Garth le Pere is the executive director of the Institute for Global Dialogue. From Johannesburg, he spoke to VOA English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about how the US message on terrorism is being heard on the continent. He says, “There’s not much of a confidence and consensus building exercise in trying to bring Africa countries into what the US is trying to develop through its attack on terrorism.”

Dr. le Pere says despite terrorist bombings at the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the recent series of bombings in Soweto, “there’s a feeling that the United States does not really view Africa as an important theater for engagement. That that might have just been something that was epiphenomenal in (a secondary part of) the larger battle against terrorism.”

He says the United States could provide the expertise and infrastructure to help deal with terrorism. He also says African countries, many of which have large Muslim populations, could serve as a bridge to the Arab world.

The head of the Institute for Global Dialogue suggested South African president Thabo Mbeki could play a major role, especially as the current chair of the new African Union. He says Mr. Mbeki could help build a continental consensus on terrorism.

Click above links to listen to interview with Garth le Pere.