The recent meeting in Washington between President George W. Bush and Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure underscores the increasingly close relationship between Mali and the United States.
Mali has made “great strides in consolidating its democracy,” said Todd Moss, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. Mali, he said, has managed to avoid some of the problems suffered by its neighbors. “It is really a society," said Mr. Moss, that is on the right path” to development. “There is a broad consensus within Mali that there is no turning back from the democratic path.”
Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world, with an average per capita annual income of less than four hundred dollars. Nevertheless, over the past decade it has made significant political, economic and social progress, so much so that it has become eligible to receive funding from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. government corporation that sponsors economic development. And indeed, Mali recently signed a five year Millennium Challenge Account Compact worth just over four hundred and sixty million dollars.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Moss says that the fact that Mali has signed the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact is in itself a “confirmation that. . . .the U.S. government views Mali as an important partner in promoting peace, stability and prosperity in West Africa.” And more U.S. assistance is on the way. Mali will benefit from President Bush’s education and malaria initiatives, as well as from normal U.S. bilateral assistance programs.
The United States is also working with the government of Mali to help control its borders and territory so that the country does not become a haven for traffickers or for terrorism. “Poor countries are not too poor for democracy,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Todd Moss. “It [democracy] is not a luxury. I think Mali has shown that.”