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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration Officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Today's guest: Dr. Jendayi Frazer

Dr. Jendayi Frazer
Dr. Jendayi Frazer
July 2, 2003

Dr. Jendayi Frazer
Hello, it is wonderful to be here with you today. I look forward to answering your questions. We have had an exciting week and look forward to our trip next week to the continent of Africa.

Allen, from Lynchburg, Virginia writes:
Dr. Jendayi Frazer- Could you please explain President Bush's plans to deal with the wide spread poverty, hunger, warlords, and the growing AIDS epademic in Africa.

Thank you so much for your time, I am a 16 year old student but I am also very concerned with World Affairs.

Dr. Jendayi Frazer
Dear Allen,

I would like to thank you for your interest in world affairs and encourage you to continue your study of the African continent.

In answer to your question, President Bush's vision for Africa is a continent that is free, prosperous and peaceful. Our policy is focused on particularly on the major challenges of HIV/AIDS on the continent. The President signed a historic initiative -- the Emergency Plan for AIDS relief which will provide prevention education, care and treatment and assist orphans to address this major pandemic.

The President also hopes to promote a prosperous Africa through open markets and free trade relations with the continent. We have an initiative called the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act which provides access to the U.S. market for African products.

We hope through this initiative to create jobs in Africa and to create investment opportunities for American companies and businesspeople. We are working towards a peaceful Africa by supporting conflict resolution initiatives with African leaders and supporting U.N. peacekeeping missions in Africa.

Michael, from Fuquay Varina, North Carolina writes:
As far as building America's relationship with the continent of Africa, would you please describe that challenge? Specifically, what are the general feelings of Afican people what are their opinions not the government's view but the people of US foreign policies in the Mid-East etc. to determine how to develop this relationship we must understand the scope of the challenge. Thanks

Dr. Jendayi Frazer
Dear Michael,

You asked what are the challenges of building America's relations with the continent of Africa.

Our best diplomats are American citizens who live and work in Africa. There are many faith-based organizations, multiple missions who are promoting education, who are assisting with health care across the continent. We have Peace Corps volunteers -- young people with an interest in Africa, who are also the diplomats for American engagement.

And there are official State Dept officials working with the governments.

I think in general, Africans and Americans have had a very strong positive and warm relationship. Clearly, when we look at the range of global affairs there will be areas where we share common interest and areas in which there are some disagreement. But as a whole, I would say our relationship with Africa is very positive.

Kurt, from Indianapolis writes:
How did the White House decide on these African countries? Will the President have time to go on a safari while he is there?

Dr. Jendayi Frazer
Dear Kurt,

The President was extended invitations from many African heads of state. And certainly with 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa it is not easy to decide where we will visit on this first trip.

We decided to go to South Africa and Nigeria because we have very strong and deep bilateral interests. South Africa is the largest trade partner in sub-Saharan Africa. Nigeria is the continent's most populous country with 120 million people.

We also wanted to visit a country that is primarily francophone so we are going to Senegal, West Africa's longest standing democracy. We will visit Botswana, the country with Africa's strongest and fastest growing economy.

And we will visit Uganda, which is the only country in the world to have reversed the AIDS prevalence rate.

So the President is visiting countries that exemplify this new compact for development, which focuses on ruling justly, investing in people and promoting economic freedom.

Alvaro, from Spain writes:
The situation in Liberia is very hard. Some countries want U.S. to lead a multinational force because Liberia was founded by freed American slaves. What would the goals of the mission be? Will U.S. send troops to Liberia? How many troops could U.S. send - a small or a big contingent? How long could U.S. troops stay?

Dr. Jendayi Frazer
Dear Alvaro,

You note that the situation is very hard in Liberia and ask whether the U.S. will send troops.

Indeed the situation is quite tragic. President Bush just hours ago spoke on the tragedy in Liberia and noted that we are pleased that the cease fire is holding. He also said that Charles Taylor must leave the country to give the people of Liberia a chance for peace.

The U.S. is actively discussing how we can best support international efforts to assist Liberia return to peace and the rule of law.

We are working with regional governments to support the negotiations in Ghana and to map out a secure transition to peace.

We will help the people of Liberia find the path to peace. But as the President said this afternoon, he is still looking at the options, he has asked Secretary Powell to discuss the situation with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and will continue to support the diplomatic efforts.

Mutili, from NY writes:
1 Kenya had been blacklisted as an autocratic, undemocratic and very corrupt. After the December 2002 elections, Kenya has more democracy, and corruption is on the decline. What is the U.S. doing to support the new Kenya Goverment, especially as concerns Financial Aid???

2 When will a US President ever visit Kenya, especially considering we are all suffreing the consequences of terrorism??? Don't you think it's only fair for the US President to show support for Kenya in the fight against terrorism by visiting the country???

Dr. Jendayi Frazer
Dear Mutili,

You ask how the U.S. is supporting Kenya after its democratic elections in Dec. 2002.

Kenya has been a strong ally to the U.S. and we were all thrilled with the conduct of the election. Kenya has become a beacon for democracy across the continent and the world as a result of its peaceful free and fair elections.

The U.S. continues to provide support to the Kenyan government through our U.S. aid programs and by supporting Kenya at the World Bank and the IMF.

Kenyans have suffered as you note as a result of terrorism. Our governments are working closely together to combat terror and we look forward to President Kibaki and President Bush meeting soon although we will not be visiting Kenya on the current trip.

Chris, from Nebraska writes:
What are your duties as senior director for African Affairs?

Dr. Jendayi Frazer
Hello Chris,

My duties as Senior Director for African Affairs are two-fold:

I advise the President and the National Security Advisor on Africa issues and I also work with the various government agencies, for instance, the State Dept, Defense Dept and Treasury and others to coordinate our national security policy on Africa.

And so I am dual-hatted. I am both the President's Special Assistant and am Dr. Condoleezza Rice's Senior Director for African Affairs.

Josh, from Nashville, TN writes:
What is the best part about your job?

Dr. Jendayi Frazer

Believe it or not the best thing about my job is my bosses. I absolutely love working for President Bush and for Dr. Condoleezza Rice. Whenever I meet with the President, he immediately puts everyone at ease. He's engaged and he is focused on Africa issues. The same goes for Dr. Condoleezza Rice.

He has met with more African leaders than any other President. He has directed more members of his cabinet to visit Africa including the Secretaries of State, Treasury, Defense, Commerce and Energy and the U.S. Trade Representative.

Kasongo, from Vermont writes:
Dear Dr. Frazer,

Why does the American government support two regimes known for having created hovoc in the Great Lakes region in the last five years? I am referring to Presidents Munseveni and President Kagame, who launched a war that has killed more than 3.5 million deaths?

Dr. Jendayi Frazer
The war in the Congo over the past five years has involved nine African countries. It has been a tragic war, as you say, that has led to millions of deaths.

Since the Bush Administration came into office in January, 2001, we have put pressure on all countries to withdraw from the Congo. This includes Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Rwanda. President Bush has met with the leaders of the Great Lakes region and Dr. Condoleezza Rice has spoken to them on multiple occasions.

This diplomatic pressure has led to the latest withdrawal of Rwanda and Uganda from the Congo. We were pleased that a new government of national unity was named in the Congo concluding the last component of the Lusaka Peace Accord signed in 1999.

Dr. Jendayi Frazer
I've enjoyed our dialogue this afternoon. I am pleased with the extensive interest in our Africa policy. I hope you will continue to log-in to the White House web site where we will follow the President's trip to Africa. To stay abreast of the President's trip to Africa and our evolving African policy log-on to In the meantime, I hope you have a Happy Fourth of July to celebrate America's freedom and independence.