For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 20, 2008
President Bush and President Kufuor Exchange Toasts
State Banquet Hall
Africa Trip 2008
7:58 P.M. (Local)
PRESIDENT KUFUOR: Your Excellencies, President George Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush; Right Honorable Sekyi-Hughes, Speaker; Your Ladyship, Mrs. Georgina Wood, Chief Justice of Ghana; Your Excellency, former President of Ghana, Jerry John Rawlings, Mrs. Rawlings; Professor Adzei Bekoe, Chairman of Council of States; Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen: Mr. President, on behalf of the government and people of Ghana, I am delighted and honored to welcome you and your distinguished delegation to our shores for this short but memorable visit, which is an affirmation of the goodwill and bonds of cooperation between our two governments and countries.
We note with great admiration your commitment to the respect of human rights, democracy, and good governance, as well as your humanitarian support for the drive towards poverty alleviation. We recognize also your exemplary dedication to the fight against diseases, like malaria and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
This morning, in the castle gardens, you launched a historic $350 million, five-year initiative to fight neglected -- (applause.) This was to fight neglected tropical diseases, including river blindness. Again, you announced the further donation of $17 million to be invested in the control of malaria annually for three consecutive years. (Applause.) Ghana is indeed very appreciative of this general gesture. (Applause.)
The nation's admiration extends also to your gracious wife, Mrs. Laura Bush, who is commended highly for sharing your determination to help eradicate illiteracy on our continent of Africa. (Applause.) She has indeed visited Ghana once in pursuance of this mission.
Mr. President, the various concerns you have articulated during your presidency provide a reliable platform for securing peaceful and orderly development anywhere, but perhaps more so in the developing world. Ladies and gentlemen, I must say this opportunity to acknowledge the leading role of President Bush in the decision by the G8 to cancel the $40 billion debt owed by the poor countries of the world to the World Bank -- (applause) -- to the World Bank, IMF and other multilateral international lenders. A large part of Ghana's external debts were cancelled as a result of this decision. (Applause.)
Mr. President, Africa salutes you for these gestures of goodwill that are impacting the lives of many ordinary persons on the continent for the better. Here in Ghana, we appreciate the assistance of the United States in the establishment of strong and viable democratic institutions to engender fair elections, the rule of law, and respect for political and economic rights of all Ghanaians.
Ghana is among the first sets of beneficiaries of the Millennium Challenge Accounts, initiated by you personally, to provide greater resources to African nations that strive to uphold good governance while also promoting economic freedom. By this policy, Ghana is benefitting from a grant of over $547 million to modernize -- (applause) -- to modernize her agriculture.
Our country is also signatory to the African Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA, which allows export of over 6,000 commodities, both duty and quota free to the United States' market.
We welcome your government for facilitating measures to promote the setting up of private equity funds through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. We have no doubt that these far reaching measures will accelerate economic growth to change the fortunes of our continent and help bring the much needed relief and employment to millions of ordinary citizens of Africa.
As far as the combination of this policy with the African Growth and Opportunity Act, will help us to tackle the supply-side handicap, which has hitherto prevented us from enjoying the full benefits of the policy of AGOA. Mr. President, this is no doubt a good opportunity for me to enlist your resource, to commit to the successful completion of the Doha trade negotiations, including development arrangements for the third world countries.
I should appeal to you also, and to the United States government, to adjust its policies to accommodate the realistic plea of cotton-producing nations of West Africa, for many of whom the crop is the mainstay of their economy.
Mr. President, Ghana unreservedly condemns terrorism and its spread around the world. In particular, we appreciate your leadership since the September 11th event, which claimed the lives of many, including some Ghanaians, who were going about their legitimate pursuits peacefully in New York. That sad event established beyond doubt the necessity for humanity as a whole to reject all forms of extremism and intolerance in favor of dialogue and constructive engagements, in resolving the myriads of problems confronting the world today. (Applause.)
In this regard, my government has always supported dialogue for resolving all problems on the continent, particularly Darfur, Somalia, and most recently Kenya and Chad. We welcome the assistance which the United States of America is offering through the United Nations and the African Union in the search for a solution to these conflicts.
Mr. President, let me once again extend our nation's warm sentiments to you, and your entourage, on this short but much appreciated visit. (Applause.) We would have preferred to show you many physical manifestations of the contributions which the United States of America, especially under your leadership, has been making towards the development of our country. (Applause.)
Given the limitation of time, however, this has not been possible. In particular, it had been hoped that you would drive on the 14 kilometer Mallam to Tetteh Quarshie Road, currently one of the busiest in the city of Accra, which is to be reconstructed into a first-class, six-lane, dual-carriage road to ease heavy traffic -- (applause) -- and also support timely bulk haulage of agricultural produce to the port for export. The project is being undertaken with $101 million of the Millennium Challenge Account. (Applause.)
I have a feeling, very strong feeling that on your impending retirement, successful retirement from office, you come back to see this road. (Applause.)
Mr. President, in appreciation of your many kind gestures toward Ghana and other parts of Africa, and to immortalize your goodwill to us, my government has decided to name this road, this very strategic road, after you. (Applause.) Henceforth it will be called the George Bush Motorway. (Applause.)
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, may I now kindly request all of you to be up standing, raise your glasses, and drink a toast to the continued well-being and success of President and Mrs. Laura Bush.
Before I join you to drink to you, let me conclude by wishing long live the cordial relations between the United States of America and Ghana. Thank you, and may God bless us all. Thank you. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. President, Mrs. Kufuor, and all the distinguished guests here, thank you for your warm welcome. And I would like to take this opportunity to thank the good people of Ghana for the wonderful welcome Laura and I received. I don't think I have been to a country where the people have been more friendly, more open -- (applause.) We appreciate so very much your hospitality, and I really appreciate the George Bush Motorway. (Laughter and applause.) The next time I come and ride on the George Bush Motorway, I promise that we will not shut the highway down. (Laughter.)
President Kufuor is a close friend. He has earned my respect, and he's earned the respect of leaders all across the world. (Applause.) He is an accomplished man with a good mind and a good heart. (Applause.)
We first met in 2001; we were new Presidents. And here we are, nearly seven years later, and we're fixing to leave office. (Laughter.) But we both vow we will finish strong with our heads held high. (Applause.)
In the remaining months, we will work to strengthen the partnership between our two nations. The ties that bind the United States and Ghana are as long as they are deep. Last year Ghana commemorated the 50th anniversary of its independence. And when you claimed your liberty in 1957, the United States of America was by your side. Richard Nixon and Martin Luther King, Jr. were among the notable Americans who were here when the Union Jack was replaced by the red, yellow and green of the Republic of Ghana. (Applause.) Four years later, 51 idealistic young Americans arrived in your beautiful country as Ghana became the first nation to host volunteers from the Peace Corps. (Applause.)
This long tradition of friendship and cooperation continues today. Today Ghana and the United States are working to strengthen democracy and good government. Together we're harnessing the power of global trade to alleviate poverty. And, Mr. President, rest assured I will work to complete the Doha Round. (Applause.) Together we're working to preserve peace, combat disease and help ensure that all of Ghana's citizens can give their children what we all want for our children: a more hopeful future.
And so, Mr. President, I want to thank you for your friendship. I thank you for your leadership. I thank you for your kindness, and I offer a toast to you, your gracious wife, and to the noble people of Ghana. God bless. (Applause.)
END 8:19 P.M. (Local)