View Full Version : Bush ready to go to work in Africa

Sgt Sostand
07-09-03, 01:36 PM
President: U.S. to be ‘involved’ in Liberia, seeks S. African help
on Zimbabwe
President Bush and South African President Thabo Mbeki speak to reporters in Pretoria, South Africa. Click "Play" to learn more about Bush's pledge not to overextend U.S. forces if he sends troops to join a peacekeeping force in Liberia.

SPEAKING TO REPORTERS after meeting with South African President Thabo Mbeki, Bush renewed his pledge to “be involved” in Liberia, where civil war has dragged on for years and conditions in Monrovia have become desperate amid a political stalemate involving President Charles Taylor.
Mbeki pressed Bush on whether the United States planned to play a role in the crisis. “I said, ‘Yes, we’ll be involved,’ and we’re now discussing the extent of our involvement,” Bush said at a news conference with Mbeki.
The United States already has tens of thousands of soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo. Bush said that whatever he decided to do about Liberia, “we won’t overextend our troops.”
The United States has trained battalions of African troops, Bush said, and “helping people help themselves” was one method of ensuring the U.S. military would not become stretched too thin there.
Mbeki agreed that the military burden in Liberia peacekeeping “really ought to principally fall on us as Africans.”
Bush did not say whether he would deploy troops to Liberia. He promised that “we will work closely with the United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States [ECOWAS] to enforce the cease-fire, to see to it that Mr. Taylor leaves office so there can be a peaceful transition in Liberia.”
A spokesman for ECOWAS said Wednesday that the West African organization planned to send 1,000 peacekeepers to Liberia within two weeks and expected help with logistics from the United States.

In an unexpected warming of relations on another major concern, Bush and Mbeki presented a united front on Zimbabwe, publicly setting aside their differences over Mbeki’s opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Zimbabwe had been expected to expose divisions between the two countries. Washington had called for southern African states to pressure Mugabe to agree to political changes, while Mbeki was reluctant to lean on his northern neighbor.
Bush, who is making his first trip to Africa as president, held up Mbeki as “the point man” on Zimbabwe, saying he was working hard and “making good progress” in a campaign of quiet diplomacy.

“I think Mr. Mbeki can be an honest broker,” Bush said, adding that they both wanted the same outcome in Zimbabwe.
But Bush made it clear that Washington would continue to put pressure on South Africa and its neighbors to keep the heat on Mugabe. He promised that Washington would speak out “when we see a situation where somebody’s freedoms have been taken away from them and they’re suffering.”
About half of Zimbabwe’s population faces starvation. Dozens of people have been killed in state-orchestrated political violence, and thousands more have been beaten, jailed, raped or tortured for their views.
Another agenda Bush pursued was Africa’s AIDS tragedy.
South Africa has the highest number of infections on the continent, 5 million. It also is one of 14 hardest-hit African and Caribbean countries that would benefit under Bush’s proposed five-year, $15 billion AIDS initiative.
“South Africa recently increased its budget [for AIDS]. We noticed, and we appreciate that,” Bush said. “People across Africa have the will to fight this disease but often not the resources, and the United States is willing to put up the resources to help win the fight.”