WASHINGTON – President Bush's trip to Africa, originally scheduled for January but called off amid the buildup to war in Iraq, has been rescheduled for next month with stops in five countries, the White House said Friday.
"This visit highlights the Bush administration's commitment to working toward a free, prosperous and peaceful Africa," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said.
Though the intended destinations were never announced before the original trip was postponed, Kenya was among the countries likely to be visited. It has now been ruled out.
Last November, Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda (search) network claimed responsibility for twin terrorist attacks on Israeli-affiliated targets in and near Mombasa, Kenya. The attacks were reminiscent of Al Qaeda's well-coordinated and deadly 1998 assault on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
During the trip, Bush is expected to focus on several administration initiatives involving Africa, primarily the new law authorizing a tripling of U.S. funds for fighting AIDS in 12 African and two Caribbean countries.
The program aims to prevent 7 million new infections, care for 10 million sufferers of the disease and provide treatment for 2 million people. Actual yearly spending through the five year, $15 billion program still needs congressional approval.
Bush also has proposed a 50 percent boost — to a total of $15 billion a year by 2006 — in aid for developing nations. But in a tough-love approach, the extra $5 billion would go only to the few poor countries deemed to be sufficiently tackling corruption, committed to open markets and undertaking political reforms.
In addition, the White House is hoping to complete negotiations on a trade deal with Australia and countries in Southern Africa — Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland — in 2004.
The president also has pressed for famine-stricken nations to accept genetically modified food from America, and accused Europe of aggravating hunger in Africa by closing its markets to the food. The result, Bush has said, is that African farmers have been reluctant to try growing bioengineered foods, which could be profitable and help feed the populace.
At the same time, the Europeans have been critical of the Bush administration's rejection of a proposal to freeze the export of subsidized food to Africa.