President Bush is stepping up U.S. support for efforts to end the political crisis in Kenya. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports he is sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Nairobi during his upcoming trip to Africa.

President Bush says Rice will deliver a message directly to Kenya's leaders and people.

"There must be an immediate halt to violence," he said. "There must be justice for the victims of abuse, and there must be a full return to democracy."

He says the United States backs efforts by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to end the crisis in Kenya that began with disputed national elections late last year.

Mr. Bush says elsewhere on the continent, conflict mediation, largely led by Africans, has yielded results. He says one prime example is Liberia, which is recovering from a long civil war.

Liberia is one of the countries on his itinerary, along with Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ghana. He says overall, Africa is in the midst of great change and is now a place of potential.

"It is a place where democracy is advancing, where economies are growing and leaders are meeting challenges with purpose and determination," Bush said.

He says America's commitment to help is strong. In a speech at Washington's Museum of African Art, he said he will use the upcoming trip to highlight efforts to fight dangerous diseases and spur development.

The president said Africa's greatest resource is its people, and he mourned the lives lost to AIDS and malaria. He urged the U.S. Congress to approve his request for a major increase in funding to fight AIDS in Africa, and he said a U.S. initiative to combat malaria launched in 2006 is already making a difference.

"According to new data, malaria rates are dropping dramatically in many parts of Africa,' he added. "We are still on this path and extraordinary achievement is within reach. Africa can turn a disease that has taken its children for centuries, into a thing of the past."

Mr. Bush will visit hospitals and clinics during his visit to Africa. He will also tour job training centers and small businesses to call attention to the importance of foreign investment.

"When you invest capital, you create jobs. Paternalism has got to be a thing of the past," he continued. "Joint venturing with good capable people is what the future is all about."

Next Tuesday, while in Kigali, the president will sign a bilateral investment treaty with Rwanda. It will be America's first such treaty with a sub-Saharan nation in nearly a decade.