Obama meets with four African leaders over democracy, growth

Obama meets with four African leaders over democracy, growth
# 29 March 2013 01:42 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday met with leaders of Sierra Leone, Senegal, Malawi and Cape Verde, with focus on democracy building and economic growth in their countries, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

Obama spoke highly of the advances made in the two areas by the four countries after talks with Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Joyce Banda of Malawi and Prime Minister Jose Maria Pereira Neves of Cape Verde.

"The reason that I'm meeting with these four is they exemplify the progress that we're seeing in Africa," Obama told reporters at the White House.

He pointed to "consecutive fair and free elections" as well as "good governance" and "significant" economic growth in Sierra Leone following a brutal civil war just 10 years ago.

He praised Banda, one of two female presidents in Africa, for making "significant progress" in her country following a constitutional crisis last year.

As to Senegal, Obama spoke of democracy sustained in the West African nation as then President Abdoulaye Wade had tried to run for a third term but was beat by Sall in the elections in April last year.

Obama called Cape Verde "a real success story" as the country is moving into "the middle of the pack" in terms of development levels because of "good governance and management."

The president said his talks with the four leaders focused on how to continue to build on strong democracies, the economic situation in their countries, how to engage young people, and some of the regional challenges like terrorism and drug trafficking.

"My main message to each of these leaders is that the United States is going to be a strong partner, not based on the old model in which we are a donor and they are simply a recipient, but a new model that's based on partnership and recognizing that no continent has greater potential or greater upside than the continent of Africa if they in fact have the kind of strong leadership that these four individuals represent," the president said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with leaders of Sierra Leone, Malawi and Cape Verde earlier in the day, and discussed issues of mutual concern including extremist networks, illicit trafficking and maritime security.

Senegal was represented by its ambassador in the meeting as President Sall was delayed in his travels.

Obama went to Ghana in July 2009, the only trip he made to sub- Saharan Africa during his first term. He has hosted a number of African leaders at the White House over the past four years.

The White House unveiled a new strategy toward the region in June last year, as Obama predicted Africa will be "the world's next major economic success story."

The new strategy sets forth four strategic objectives in the region -- strengthen democratic institutions, spur economic growth, trade and investment, advance peace and security, and promote opportunity and development.

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