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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 February 2008, 13:38 GMT
US 'is not seeking African bases'
US President George W Bush and Ghanaian President John Kufuor in Accra, Ghana
Mr Bush said the US did not want to add new bases in Africa
US President George Bush has said the creation of a US military command for Africa does not mean he wants to expand US military presence on the continent.

Mr Bush said the idea that he was currently visiting Africa looking for sites for US bases was "baloney".

Mr Bush is on the second-to-last stop of a five-country Africa tour.

He said the new command, Africom, was to provide African states with military training and assistance so they could handle Africa's problems better.

"It is a command structure that is aiming to help provide military assistance to African nations so African nations are more capable of dealing with Africa's conflicts - like peacekeeping training," he said.

Mr Bush was speaking at a joint news conference with the Ghanaian president, John Kufuor.

Mr Kufuor welcomed the comments and said relations with Washington had never been better.

Despite the warm words, Ghana is refusing to host any US facility or base on its territory under Africom, whose creation was announced a year ago.

The idea of setting up a military command in Africa is an unpopular idea, and so far only Liberia has said it would host it, says the BBC's Will Ross in Accra.

Critics say Africom is designed to protect strategic American interests on the continent such as oil.

Fighting diseases

Mr Bush also announced a grant of $17m (8.8m) to help the Ghanaian government in the fight against malaria, and a $350m (180m) five-year plan to fight what he described as "neglected tropical diseases" such as hookworm or river blindness.

PRESIDENT BUSH'S ITINERARY
MAP
Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, Liberia

Under a 2006 deal, Ghana is receiving $547m (282m) in funds under the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US initiative which twins aid to fight poverty with so-called "good governance".

On Tuesday, Mr Bush was in Rwanda, where he urged the world to take action to stop the violence in the Sudanese region of Darfur "once and for all".

He drew parallels between the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and the violence in Darfur - where at least 200,000 people are feared to have died since 2003, and which the president has also termed "genocide".

Mr Bush pledged an additional $100m (51m) towards peacekeeping in Darfur, but defended his decision not to contribute US troops.

Mr Bush has been making pledges to help fight Aids and malaria, and promises of aid and investment, as he tours Africa.

After Ghana, he will travel briefly to Liberia, the final stop-off on his trip.



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
President Bush with President John Kufor of Ghana



SEE ALSO
Bush urges end to Darfur 'evil'
20 Feb 08 |  Africa
Bush in Africa: Your views
15 Feb 08 |  Africa
In pictures: Bush's Africa tour
16 Feb 08 |  In Pictures



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