Bush begins Africa trip in Benin, Tanzania

Other News Materials 16 February 2008 23:30 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - US President George W Bush arrived in Tanzania Saturday evening, his second stop in a six-day Africa visit that will also take him to Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia.

Bush began his trip earlier Saturday when he made a brief stop in the western African country of Benin and met with its president, Thomas Yayi Boni, in Cotonou before flying on to Tanzania.

The US president was greeted on arrival in the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam by President Jakaya Kikwete.

While in Benin Bush stressed the necessity of ending the ethnic conflict in Kenya. He said he is sending US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Kenya on Monday to support negotiations mediated by former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan.

Post-election violence has threatened the stability and economic well-being of one of Africa's most successful democracies. The stalemate over the disputed polls in December sparked a wave of violence that has left more than 1,000 dead and more than 300,000 displaced.

Bush said Rice would stress to the participants in the talks "that there ought to be a power sharing agreement" and an end to violence.

Before heading for Tanzania Bush stressed US support for the fight against malaria: "I stand here as a friend and partner prepared to fight sickness and poverty."

At the top of the US president's agenda is Africa's vital role in US strategic security interests - a role that he says can best be guaranteed 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."