President George W. Bush, back from a trip to Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia, says the United States is helping a new generation of African leaders change the continent:
"They are reformers who are determined to steer their nations toward freedom and justice, prosperity and peace. They're also the result of new American policy and new American commitments."
President Bush has launched major initiatives in Africa on malaria, education and HIV/AIDS treatment programs. Since taking office, he has more than doubled U.S. development assistance from about ten billion dollars in 2000 to twenty-three billion dollars in 2006. In Africa, said Mr. Bush, "America is on a mission of mercy.":
"This mission serves our security interests -- people who live in chaos and despair are more likely to fall under the sway of violent ideologies. This mission serves our moral interests -- we're all children of God, and having the power to save lives comes with the obligation to use it. This mission rarely makes headlines in the United States. But when you go to Africa, it is a visible part of daily life and there's no doubt that our mission is succeeding. You see it when you hold a baby that would have died of malaria without America's support. You see it when you look into the eyes of an AIDS patient who has been brought back to life. You see it in the quiet pride of a child going to school for the first time. And you see that turning away from this life-changing work would be a cause for shame. "
That mission will continue, says Mr. Bush, who called on the U.S. Congress to double funding to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa to thirty billion dollars over the next five years. "The American people," said President Bush, "recognize the extraordinary potential of Africa:
"In Rwanda, a school teacher was discussing the fight to eradicate malaria and AIDS with her class. And she explained her attitude this way: "It can happen here." With those words, she summed up the new spirit of Africa: confident and determined and strong."
"This is a spirit", said President Bush, "worthy of America's support."