Mbeki urges Bush for more Africa aid

South African President Thabo Mbeki has urged US President George Bush to deliver more African aid, ahead of a G8 summit where the fate of a multibillion-dollar rescue plan for Africa will be decided.

    Mbeki's pleas were rebuffed

    Mbeki said at a briefing with Bush: "I'm going to create more problems for you, President, because I'm going to ask for more support because the contribution of the United States to helping us to solve the issues related to peace and the security on the continent, that contribution is very great."

    "That contribution, in terms of the recovery of the economy and recovery of the continent, is very important, and I - we believe very strongly, President, that the forthcoming G8 summit in Scotland has a possibility to communicate a very strong, positive message about movement on the African continent away from poverty."


    But Bush appeared not to budge.


    Washington has been lukewarm to British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Commission for Africa, which calls for doubling aid with an extra $25 billion annually until 2010 and then, following a review, an extra $50 billion per year.


    Blair's initiative also proposes 100% debt relief for poor sub-Saharan countries and cautions donors against attaching too many strings to their money.

    G8 meeting

    The Commission for Africa will be among the main points of discussion at the 6-8 July summit of the Group of Eight club of rich nations in Gleneagles, Scotland.


    While Washington has not clearly stated its position on the Commission for Africa, it has said that it cannot commit itself financially to any long-term proposal.


    "It doesn't fit our budgetary process"

    George Bush,
    US president

    "It doesn't fit our budgetary process," Bush told reporters flatly.

    "On the other hand, I've made it clear to the prime minister I look forward to working with Great Britain and other countries to advance the African agenda that has been on the G8's agenda since I've been the president."


    Bush added: "By the way, the thing I appreciate about the President is he understands it's a two-way street we're talking about. Countries such as ours are not going to want to give aid to countries that are corrupt or don't hold true to democratic principles such as rule of law and tranparency and human rights and human decency."

    SA's vital role

    "That's where the president has played such a vital role, because South Africa has been a stalwart when it comes to democratic institution. We've got more work to do; I look forward to sitting down at the table not only with leaders from the G8 countries but the continent of Africa and other leaders coming. It's going to be quite a meeting," Bush said.


    Bush also raised Zimbabwe and South Africa's "quiet diplomacy towards Mugabe.


    Bush (R) also raised Zimbabwe
    and Sudan with Mbeki (L)

    "I brought up Zimbabwe. We're concerned about a leadership that does not adhere to democratic principles, and obviously concerned about a country that was able to, for example, feed ourselves (sic) now has to import food as an example of the consequence of not adhering to democratic principles," Bush said.


    The two leaders also discussed Darfur in Sudan, where South Africans are among African Union troops.



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