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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 11, 2001

Remarks by the President and President Obasanjo of Nigeria in Photo Opportunity
The South Portico

1:01 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT BUSH: We just concluded a series of discussions and a good lunch with the delegation from Nigeria. The President and I also had some private time to visit about issues of mutual concern. I am -- we discussed issues such as trade, the environment.

Obviously, we discussed health issues that relate to the continent of Africa. We are very supportive of the President's initiatives to provide peacekeepers in troubled countries on the African continent.

As many Americans may know, that we are in the process of helping provide technical assistance to Nigerian troops so that they are better able to keep those peace missions. We talked about the program. We've completed two phases of the training. We're in the process of completing the third phase of an agreed-upon training program.

The short of it is that Nigeria is a friend of America and the President is a friend of mine. It has been my honor to welcome him here. I look forward to working with him in the future.

Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBASANJO: Thank you very much, sir. I want to take this opportunity to thank President Bush for the invitation to visit the United States of America at this particular time, and to be able to establish our relationship and at the same time be able to cover the important areas, ground -- of important areas of bilateral relations of areas of concern in our subregion of West Africa, areas of concern in Africa, particularly areas of -- that are ravaged by war and conflict, such as Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone and so on.

And what we are doing in these areas, we briefed the President. And, of course, we have the support of the government of the United States in our peacekeeping and conflict resolution efforts in Africa.

We discussed other issues that are of importance to us. We discussed the MAP, the Millennium African Plan, which initially was originated by President Thabo Mbeki, President Bouteflika and myself, and which now has been extended to take on Egypt, President Mubarak, and President Wad of Senegal.

We also look at issues that have been on the table before and that we are working together on. For instance, how do we prepare our troops for these increasing peacekeeping roles in Africa, and the systems that we have got in the past from the U.S. government for which we are very grateful and which we believe will continue, to really make our troops to be able to perform adequately in peacekeeping roles.

We, of course, reiterated the friendship and the cordiality between Nigeria and the United States. And, of course, I am happy to be able to make a friend of President Bush, just as you heard President Bush had made a friend of me. I now can feel that if there is any need to call on President Bush, he knows what I look like. (Laughter). I am not a no-person to him. He knows how I smile. He may even be feeling how I look on telephone.

And that is one important thing, that we made contact, we established a relationship and we are friends. Thank you very much.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. President, thank you very much. It's an honor for you to be here. Thank you.

END 1:10 P.M. EDT

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