WASHINGTON – President Bush on Monday lavished the full White House treatment on Ghanian President John Kufuor, a West African ally who holds a kinship with the U.S. president as their two-term tenures near a close.
Kufuor emerged on the South Lawn to find all the pageantry of a military honor guard and flag-waving spectators. At his side, Bush declared five times that Ghana and America "stand as one" on combating poverty, disease and illiteracy, and promoting free elections and trade.
"Your country is a model of entrepreneurship and democracy and peace on the continent of Africa," Bush told Kufuor at the sunny arrival ceremony.
Later, Bush and Kufuor praised their countries' partnership during a statement in the Rose Garden, part of a full day of activity surrounding Kufuor's visit.
Ghana is a kind of story that Bush likes to promote on the often volatile continent. It is a stable, relatively well administered democracy that has largely avoided ethnic clashes, played a busy peacekeeping role and reduced its still-persistent poverty.
The U.S. pumps hundreds of millions of dollars into Ghana to help fight disease, build roads, train teachers and expand markets for its crops.
Bush and Kufuor also share a friendly, personal bond. They came into office about the same time and will leave soon as well, as required by term limits in both their countries.
In a clear theme of the day, Kufuor drew attention to Bush's upcoming retirement and gave him a colorful sendoff during the South Lawn ceremony.
"Your tenure has been full of events and challenges, some very mind-boggling and hair-raising," Kufuor said to laughter. "Through them all, you have been strong, forthright, consistent and faithful. You are a survivor. And my hope is that history would prove kinder to you."
Kufuor's treatment at the White House is reciprocation for the welcome Bush and first lady Laura Bush received in Ghana in February. Several thousand children in their school uniforms lined the streets of Accra and waved tiny Ghanian flags as Bush's motorcade bounded through the city that day. Kufuor also threw a lavish dinner for 500 for Bush during his visit, and announced that a highway there had been renamed the "George Bush Motorway."