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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 November 2005, 15:28 GMT
Millions to set up Bush meeting
President Omar Bongo of Gabon
Bongo has ruled Gabon since 1967
A US lobbyist drafted a $9m contract to help Gabon President Omar Bongo meet US leader George Bush, new documents show.

There is no evidence to suggest that the money was paid to Jack Abramoff, who is being investigated for allegedly defrauding Indian tribes.

Mr Bongo did meet Mr Bush in May 2004, 10 months after the contract was drawn up but US officials say the meeting was "normal", reports the New York Times.

Gabon is one of Africa's major oil producers but mostly sells to France.

The documents were released as part of a Senate investigation.

Mr Abramoff offered to take congressmen and senators to Gabon after a golfing holiday in Scotland in August 2003, the documents state.

'Outreach programme'

But White House spokesman Trent Duffy said Mr Bongo's meeting with Mr Bush "went through the normal channels and was "part of the president's outreach programme to the continent of Africa".

Since the 9/11 attacks on the US, Mr Bush has been trying to reduce US reliance on Middle-Eastern oil and has tried to increase imports from African oil producers.

Gabon is frequently criticised by the US for alleged human rights abuses.

Mr Bongo is standing for re-election on 27 November. He has been in power since 1967.


SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Gabon
29 Nov 02 |  Country profiles


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