- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 17, 2008

DAR ES SALAAM, TANZANIA — President Bush, in the midst of a warmly recieved visit here, today signed off on a $698 million aid package — the latest and largest installment in an innovative program aimed at holding recipient countries accountable for the loans they recieve. The agreement, signed by Mr. Bush and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete in front of the massive State House here in Tanzanias capital, will go toward building infrastructure, clean water projects, and hydro power development. Also today, Mr. Bush signaled support for Kosovos declaration of independence from Serbia at a press conference with Mr. Kikwete several hours before a declaration from Kosovo was expected. Mr. Bush received another raucous welcome on his arrival at the State House with Mr. Kikwete. He was greeted by dancers at the airport last night. This morning he and Mr. Kikwete walked down a long red carpet lined with hundreds of young Tanzanians cheering and waving the flags of both countries. An enormous brass band played, and two men pounded on enormous kettle drums, creating a cacophony of noise and excitement. Mr. Kikwete thanked Mr. Bush for American help in fighting disease and poverty, and credited Mr. Bush with saving the lives of thousands of Africans. The outpouring of warmth and affection from the people of Tanzania that you have witnessed since your arrival is a genuine reflection of what we feel towards you and towards the American people, Mr. Kikwete said. Different people may have different views about you and your administration and your legacy, Mr. Kikwete said. But we in Tanzania, if we are to speak for ourselves and for Africa, we know for sure that you, Mr. President, and your administration, have been good friends of our country and have been good friends of Africa. Mr. Kikwete said that Mr. Bush would be remembered for many generations to come for the good things you have done. Mr. Bush commented on his enthusiastic reception in Africa, but only after a reporter asked Mr. Kikwete about the excitement in Africa over the presidential candidacy of Democratic Sen. Barack Obama. It seemed like there was a lot of excitement for me, wait a minute, Mr. Bush said, sparking laughter. Maybe you missed it. The White House promoted the agreement with Tanzania as evidence of Mr. Bushs commitment to helping Africa, contrasting the presidents record with aid to Africa under President Clinton. They said during the last few years of President Clintons second term, U.S. aid to Africa was between $600 million and $800 million a year, but that by 2006, that number had reached $5.6 billion. Much of that money has gone towards fighting HIV/AIDS and malaria, but todays agreement was part of the Millennium Challenge Account, which requires beneficiary countries to root out corruption and pursue economic freedom for their peoples. More than half of the $5.5 billion under MCA is going to African countries. Observers say that in addition to its accountability measures, MCA is different because it allows U.S. taxpayer dollars to go directly to businesses and contractors in recipient countries. The aim is to streamline the process and maximize the impact of aid. Mr. Bush emphasized that U.S. help to Africa was motivated not out of guilt but out of compassion, and also said American self-interest was a motivator.

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