US backs peacekeeping in Africa

Washington- US (PANA) -- US president George W.
Bush has reached an agreement with visiting President Olusegun Obasanjo to embark on the third phase of the training programme for Nigerian peacekeepers.
Under the administration of President Bill Clinton, the US reached an agreement with Nigeria to train the latter's troops for peacekeeping engagements in Sierra Leone.
The first two phases of the training have been completed.
Bush, who held discussions with Obasanjo Friday on a wide range of issues said the US would provide technical assistance to Nigerian troops to prepare them for peacekeeping operations.
The US president said the bilateral discussion focussed on trade, the environment, health issues in Africa and Nigeria's peacekeeping role.
The meeting, the first between the two leaders, was aimed at letting the US into issues of concern to Africa and how the US can work with the continent on those issues.
Both presidents said the meeting had afforded them the opportunity to know each other and establish a working relationship.
"Nigeria is a friend of America and the President (Obasanjo) is a friend of mine," Bush remarked, adding that he looked forward to working with his Nigerian counterpart in the future.
Speaking on their encounter, Obasanjo explained that their discussions covered both bilateral issues and issues of interest to Africa, such as the conflicts in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone.
The President said he had received the full support of the US government for peacekeeping and conflict resolution in Africa.
In addition, the president said he and Bush discussed the Millennium Africa Plan (MAP), a development programme he co- initiated last year with Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Bouteflika of Algeria.
President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt had now joined this group.
At an earlier meeting, the two leaders discussed strategies for dealing with the AIDS pandemic in Africa.
Following the meeting, President Bush announced US contribution of 200 million dollars to the newly proposed Global fund for tackling HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.
The announcement was made in the presence of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, several US administration officials and a two congressmen.

11 may 2001 23:23:00

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