BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Saturday, 16 February 2008, 18:05 GMT
Bush urges Kenya power-sharing
Bush talks to children and Benin's airport
President Bush says Africa has been a foreign policy priority

US President George W Bush has backed calls for a power-sharing agreement to end weeks of strife in Kenya following disputed presidential elections.

He said he was sending his secretary of state to Kenya to convey the message.

Mr Bush was speaking in Benin, before moving on to Tanzania, on his first presidential tour of Africa since 2003.

He said he would highlight African success stories during his six-day, five-nation visit, even though he remained committed to ending turmoil.

Democratic reform, economic and military assistance, and the fight against HIV/Aids are expected to be raised.

Mr Bush also wants to allay concerns about a new military command he wants to base in Africa to work with African militaries to deal with trafficking or terror.

PRESIDENT BUSH'S ITINERARY
MAP
Benin - Cotonou: arrival ceremony, meets president
Tanzania - Dar es Salaam: meets president, tours hospital; Arusha: tours hospital, textile mill and girls' school
Rwanda - Kigali: meets president, visits genocide memorial
Ghana - Accra: meets president, state dinner
Liberia - Monrovia: meets president, visits university

So far, Liberia is the only nation to have offered to host the US base. There are already some 1,700 US troops in Djibouti.

Speaking after talks with Benin's President Thomas Boni Yayi, Mr Bush said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was going to Kenya to help efforts to resolve the impasse - led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

"The key is that the leaders hear from her first hand that the United States desires to see that there be no violence and that there be a power-sharing agreement that will help this nation resolve its difficulties," Mr Bush told reporters.

Kenya's rival political parties have agreed to set up an independent panel to review last year's disputed elections.

But a possible power-sharing agreement has not been reached.

The opposition has accused President Mwai Kibaki of rigging the poll.

The dispute has led to protests, in which at least 1,000 people have died and 600,000 have fled their homes.

Malaria pledge

Speaking at a news conference with President Yayi, Mr Bush renewed his pledge to help Benin, with which the US plans to provide mosquito nets to every child under five, to help tackle malaria.

"I stand here by your side as a friend, a believer in your vision and a partner in your willingness to confront the disease and poverty that affect mankind," he said as he was receiving the Grand Cross of the Order of Benin earlier.

Displaced child drinks milk in Nairobi
Hundreds of thousands of Kenyans have fled their homes

Mr Bush said he had skipped conflict areas to highlight success stories during his Africa trip.

"When you herald success, it helps others realize what it possible," said the US president.

He called for urgent action over the "genocide" in Sudan's region of Darfur, where at least 200,000 people have died and two million been displaced in a five-year conflict.

In a BBC interview prior to his tour, the US president defended his Darfur stance, saying he had not wanted to send US troops into another Muslim country.

Compassionate

Mr Bush later flew on to Tanzania, where he was greeted at the airport in Dar es Salaam by President Jakaya Kikwete.

US President George Bush right is greeted by Tanzania's President Jakaya Kikwete as he arrives in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Mr Bush received an enthusiastic welcome in Dar es Salaam
The US president and First Lady were welcomed by thousands of people lining the road, which was decorated with banners saying "we cherish democracy" and "thank you for helping fight malaria and HIV".

But there have also been protests in the country by Muslims opposed to the so-called US "war on terror".

For a president whose foreign policy has been defined by Iraq, this visit to Africa is an opportunity to show the more compassionate side of his legacy, says the BBC's Laura Trevelyan who is travelling with Mr Bush.

America has spent $15bn (7.5bn) fighting Aids overseas since 2003, and Mr Bush has recently asked Congress to double that amount.

I've got a firm, heartfelt commitment to the continent of Africa
President George W Bush

More than one million people in sub-Saharan Africa have life-saving anti-retroviral drugs thanks to the policy.

However the policy has been criticised by some for focusing on encouraging people not to have sex in order to stop the spread of Aids - unrealistic critics say.

However, international aid agencies have said US trade policy in Africa may undermine struggling African economies.

Benin relies on cotton production, for instance - but cannot compete with US cotton because of the large subsidies paid to US farmers.

Analysts say Mr Bush may also be concerned with countering the influence of China - which has been doing billions of dollars worth of trade deals in Africa.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
President Bush on the situation in Kenya



RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific