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U.S. Committed to Peace in Africa, Bush Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 9, 2003 – President Bush said the United States is firmly committed to peace in Africa and said America would support peacekeeping efforts in Liberia.

Bush, speaking at a joint press conference with South African President Thabo Mbeki in Pretoria, said the United States strongly supports the Liberian cease-fire agreement signed last month.

Bush said that Liberian President Charles Taylor must leave the country for any peace effort to have a chance. Bush said he had spoken with Ghanaian President John Agyekum Kufuor, the current head of the Economic Community of West African States, yesterday. "The United States will work closely with ECOWAS and the United Nations to maintain the cease-fire and to enable a peaceful transfer of power," he said.

Bush said that he will not over-extend the U.S. military. He said the U.S. military has helped train seven battalions of West African peacekeepers, and their presence will help ensure the U.S. military is not over-extended.

Bush said he is still determining the extent of U.S. involvement in the peacekeeping effort in Liberia, but the United States will be involved. "We have made a commitment that we will work closely with the United Nations and ECOWAS to enforce the cease-fire, see to it that Mr. Taylor leaves office, so that there can be a peaceful transition in Liberia," Bush said. "We've made that commitment."

There is a 32-member U.S. humanitarian assistance survey team in Liberia's capital of Monrovia. Mbeki said he appreciates the United States' willingness to help. Mbeki said the team will assess what form American help will take. "We're not saying that this is a burden that just falls on the United States," Mbeki said. "It really ought to principally fall on us as Africans. Of course, we need a lot of support, logistics wise and so on, to do that, but the will is there."

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