Bush departs for Africa

Other News Materials 16 February 2008 04:07 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - US President George W Bush departed Friday afternoon for a six-day journey to Africa, where he will visit Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia.

At the top of his agenda is Africa's vital role in US strategic security interests - a role that he says can best be guarnateed by supporting economic development and fighting the AIDS and malaria epidemics that undermine Africa's welfare.

"We have seen that conditions on the other side of the world can have a direct impact on our own security," Bush said Thursday. "We also know that if Africa grows in freedom and prosperity and justice, its people will choose a better course."

Bush met Friday morning with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the White House, where Ban called Bush's trip to Africa "very important and historic."

Bush is sending US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Kenya during his trip to help mediate the explosive political situation. Post-election violence has threatened the stability and economic well-being of one of Africa's most successful democracies.

Bush had threatened to delay the Africa trip because of a standoff with the US House of Representatives, which has refused to give the final stamp of approval on a law that would increase White House authority to carry out secret wiretaps on foreign communications and give legal immunity for phone companies that have carried out wiretapping without warrants.

The House Democrats, who hold the majority, defiantly closed Congress for a week's recess and allowed a temporary measure to lapse on Saturday.