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Washington correspondent Rob Watson
"President Clinton said the US was a friend of Africa"
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Thursday, 17 February, 2000, 20:52 GMT
Clinton urges closer links with Africa

MLC rebels in Gemena, DR Congo The US is concerned about ongoing wars in Africa

United States President Bill Clinton has appealed to Americans to choose to make a difference to Africa.

America must choose, when it comes to Africa, to make a difference.
President Clinton
In a speech to a summit aimed at improving US relations with Africa, President Clinton outlined areas including trade and debt relief where he wanted the United States to offer more help.

"In this world, we can be indifferent or we can make a difference. America must choose, when it comes to Africa, to make a difference," he told the Washington summit.

Recalling his trip to Africa two years ago, Mr Clinton said that it was necessary to see Africa's problems plainly but also to see its promise.

Areas US can improve on
Debt relief
Efforts to fight disease
He pointed out that the world's fastest growing economy last year was in Africa - Mozambique - as well as several of the next fastest.

Critics say that, despite devoting much more time and effort to Africa than previous American presidents, Mr Clinton has achieved very little.

'Thousands of triumphs'

President Clinton hit back saying his policy towards Africa had been working and there had been "thousands of triumphs, large and small".

However, he warned that continued progress depended "fundamentally and first" on African leaders putting the best interests of their people first.

Bill Clinton President Clinton is seen as paying more attention to Africa than his predecessors
"No-one in our government is under any illusions. There is still a lot of work to be done," he said.

"These things cannot be imported, and they cannot be imposed from outside. Even countries making the right policy choices still have to struggle to deliver for their people."

Plan of action

The five-day summit is intended to unify and strengthen an African lobby in America - along the lines of the powerful Jewish lobby there, and to improve Africa's image in the United States.

The organisers intend to end the summit with a plan of action on Africa to be sent to political, business and community leaders across the US.

The summit, in the planning for four years, has been funded by a number of prominent US non-profit organisations like the Carnegie and Ford Foundations and hopes to bring together political and business leaders from the US and Africa.

Vice-President Al Gore and several African leaders are expected to attend the summit, as well as Republican presidential hopeful George W Bush.

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See also:
09 Feb 00 |  Africa
US backs UN force for Congo
06 Dec 99 |  Africa
US issues stark DR Congo warning
24 Jan 00 |  Africa
Security Council debates Congo conflict
28 Jan 00 |  Africa
Mandela: Congo needs UN peacekeepers

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