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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 July, 2003, 19:04 GMT 20:04 UK
Diary: Bush's Africa tour
Matt Frei (L)
The BBC's Washington correspondent, Matt Frei, is travelling with US President George W Bush on his visit to Africa. Here is the first of his daily accounts of the much-anticipated tour.

Senegal! This former French colony remains one of the most Francophile countries in Africa - cafe au lait, baguettes and crepes for breakfast and virtually no English spoken.

Considering the recent spat between Washington and Paris over Iraq, that culinary loyalty alone should put it on the White House blacklist.

But then George Bush is keen to prove that he is not cowed by things French and that he, too, can court the leaders of French-speaking Africa.

They are certainly looking to him to help sort out the mess in Liberia, whose embattled leader Charles Taylor is the ghost that haunts this tour.

On day one of the Africa tour on Tuesday, Mr Bush repeated his demand for Mr Taylor to quit the country he has misruled for so many years. But so far Mr Taylor has not budged.

Meanwhile the American president remains cagey about if and when US marines will land in Monrovia.

Remember how President Bush once pledged that he would do none of the things that his predecessor would?

Well today George Bush went to the same slave trading island that Bill Clinton visited in 1998 to give a very similar speech full of regrets but not apologies about slavery, the birth defect of America.

Goree Island, squinting through the West Africa sun, its quayside lined with palm trees and its quaintly painted houses with red tiled roofs, looks like a Mediterranean fishing village.

But the facade, spruced up for the president's visit, takes little away from the grim past.

Shut your eyes as you stand in front of the infamous gateway of no return and imagine how thousands of slaves, chains clanking, were herded like cattle through this door and packed onto cargo ships bound for the plantations of the New World.

President Clinton was a master at feeling the pain of nations and peoples. How will President Bush fare?

The BBC's Paul Anstiss
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