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Tuesday, March 24, 1998 Published at 07:27 GMT

Special Report

Clinton close to apology over slavery
image: [ Schoolchildren greet President Clinton at a rural school East of Kampala ]
Schoolchildren greet President Clinton at a rural school East of Kampala

President Clinton - in Uganda on the second leg of his African tour - acknowledged that the United States was wrong to benefit from slavery.

However the president stopped short of an explicit apology. He said the United States had not always done the right thing by Africa, and that perhaps its worst sin had been that of neglect and ignorance.

During the cold war, Mr Clinton said, the US often viewed Africa through the prism of global conflict with the Soviet Union; little consideration was given to African aspirations.

[ image: Mobbed for the second day running]
Mobbed for the second day running
Mr Clinton was speaking during a visit to a primary school near the capital, Kampala, watched by hundreds of schoolchildren and dignitaries as well as the Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni.

Mr Museveni earlier said he blamed "black traitors" more than white Europeans for the 17th and 18th century trade in African people.

"African chiefs were the ones waging war on each other and capturing their own people and selling them," he said.

"If anyone should apologise it should be the African chiefs. We still have those traitors here even today."

Mr Clinton also promised $120 million in aid for African schools.

Support for democracy

Mr Clinton's African tour is one of the most extensive visits to the continent ever undertaken by an American head of state.

The trip is being billed as an attempt to strengthen American ties in a key emerging market and to show support for democracy on the continent.

Before arriving in Uganda, Mr Clinton was enthusiastically greeted in Ghana. There, he proclaimed his vision of a better future for African and said American was ready to help achieve new hopes for peace, democracy and prosperity.

Praise for economic competence

[ image: Clinton's visit seen as boost for  President Museveni]
Clinton's visit seen as boost for President Museveni
BBC correspondents in the region say Mr Clinton's visit will be a boost to President Museveni, who has won a reputation for economic competence since taking power in 1986.

The BBC's East Africa correspondent says the Ugandan President is seen by Washington as having improved stability in his country, whilst in the regional context he is considered a pivotal player - not only in the great lakes region to the south but also, because of his support for South Sudanese rebels in their long conflict with Khartoum.

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In this section

Itinerary and guide to Clinton's visit

Clinton bids Africa farewell

America's cold war heritage in Africa

From Despatches
Clinton's Africa trip overshadowed by scandal

Looking for new economic opportunities

France and the US: The scramble for Africa

African Americans watch Clinton odyssey