AIDS Initiative, Iraq in Botswana
Photo Opportunity with President Festus Mogae of Botswana
Gaberone International Convention Centre
July 10, 2003
11:43 A.M. (Local)
PRESIDENT MOGAE: Ladies and gentlemen of the press, honorable ministers, you
are probably wondering what we have been talking between the President and
I. And I was just thanking him for, first of all, visiting us, but, above
all, for the generous assistance we have been receiving.
As you know, we are the country in southern Africa that is most seriously
affected by HIV/AIDS, and we are receiving generous assistance from the United
States government, who are helping us with the testing and counseling centers
and in which we are spending about $8 million U.S. a year, which is about
40 million pula in our own currency.
They have also responded to a request for human resources assistance and
they have restored the Peace Corps program. We are collaborating with our
own private sector, the foundations in the United States -- the Bill and
Melinda Gates Foundation, the Merck Corporation Foundation for providing
us with anti-retrovirals, and also with assistance for mounting of our prevention
That program is going very well. I mention that, it is the most important
-- but also we are very grateful for AGOA, on behalf of ourselves, on behalf
of Africa as a whole, because most African countries have benefitted by AGOA.
I was telling the President that in my view, AGOA is perhaps the most significant
thing that United States has done for sub-Saharan Africa in recent decades.
As some of us some of you will know, initially Namibia and us, and Botswana,
were left out of AGOA I as a result of the level of our -- (inaudible) --
and we have since been included under AGOA II. And so the only issue is that
the dispensation, that concession should be maintained, therefore, as long
as AGOA remains. Because, like the President, we believe in trade -- of course,
we believe in aid, too. (Laughter.) So both aid and trade and cooperation.
So that's what we have been talking about -- of course, other things. But,
of course, there are a whole range of issues on which we consulted reaching
across the region -- performance of our economy, but the region of the south
-- of southern Africa and then sub-Saharan Africa as a whole.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. President, thanks. Listen, we're so honored that you
invited us here. We're thrilled to be here. You have been a very strong leader.
First, I want to commend you for your leadership. I appreciate your commitment
to democracy and freedom, to rule of law and transparency. I want to congratulate
you for serving your country so very well.
We did talk a lot of issues. We talked about the regional issues; we talked
about the war on terror. We've got a great friend in the war on terror. We
both understand that we must work together to share intelligence, to cut
off money, to forever deny terrorists a chance to plot and plan and hurt
those of us who love freedom.
I talked -- spent some time on the HIV/AIDS issue. Botswana, as a result
of the President's leadership, has really been on the forefront of dealing
with this serious problem by, first and foremost, admitting that there is
a problem, and then by working to put a strategy in place to prevent and
treat and to provide help for those who suffer.
And, Mr. President, the United States of America stands squarely with you
PRESIDENT MOGAE: Thank you.
PRESIDENT BUSH: -- with you and your Health Minister and your administration
to help put together a strategy that will save lives.
We talked about the shortage of food in parts of Africa. We had a wide-ranging
discussion. And President Mogae is a strong, visionary leader who I'm proud
to call friend.
So, thank you, Mr. President, for your hospitality.
We'll be glad to answer a couple of questions. If you'd like to call on
somebody from your press corps first.
PRESIDENT MOGAE: Does anyone want to ask --
PRESIDENT BUSH: That's not the way we do it in -- (laughter.)
QUESTION: To the U.S. President, yesterday when you met President Mbeki of South
Africa, the MDC leader in Zimbabwe was not very excited about that. He feels
you were misled. What are your views on that? Did you have any plans for
Zimbabwe and did you shelve them because of what you heard yesterday, or
are you still going to go ahead with them?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, thank you very much. I made it very clear, publicly,
the position of this administration, and that is that we expect there to
be democracy in Zimbabwe, in order for the people of that country to advance.
We did speak about Zimbabwe here. I explained why the Secretary of State
and myself have been very outspoken on the subject. And we had a frank discussion
with President Mbeki on Zimbabwe, as well.
It is -- it's a shame that that economy has gotten so weak and soft. It's
a shame for Botswana, it's a shame for southern Africa, and that the weakness
in the economy is directly attributable to bad governance. And therefore,
we will continue to speak out for democracy in Zimbabwe.
Ryan of Bloomberg. There he is. Hi, Ryan. How are you?
QUESTION: Mr. President, in Evian, you and the Europeans talked about maybe reducing
agricultural subsidies. Is this something that has come up in your meeting
today? And what assurances can you give to your African counterparts that
this is something that the U.S. is serious about?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes, that's a very good question. Absolutely, the subject
of agricultural subsidies came up here today, it came up yesterday. I suspect
and it came up in Senegal. It will come up in every country we come to, because
African leaders are worried that subsidies, agricultural subsidies are undermining
their capacity to become self-sufficient in food. That's part of the problem.
The other part of the problem is the lack of technological development in
agriculture. And we talked about the need for genetically-modified crops
throughout the continent of Africa.
I told them the reality of the situation, that we have proposed a very strong
reduction in agricultural subsidies. However, in order to make that come
to be, there needs to be reciprocation from Europe and Japan in order to
make the policy effective. We're committed to a world that trades in freedom
and we will work toward that through the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization.
QUESTION: To President Festus Mogae --
PRESIDENT MOGAE: Yes, yes. Okay.
PRESIDENT BUSH: This is a bad precedent where the same person gets to ask
two questions. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: There was a sentiment that Your Honor was going to ask the U.S. President
if AGOA, the lifespan of AGOA could be extended. Was that done today?
PRESIDENT MOGAE: You bet. (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT BUSH: In plain English.
PRESIDENT MOGAE: Yes.
QUESTION: And for how long?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I've asked Congress to extend AGOA to '08, 2008. And
the President, of course, said, well, fine, if that extension takes place,
make sure we're a part of it. And he made his case very explicitly. Everybody
in the delegation heard him clearly. And my response was, we will work closely
with you to see if that can't happen.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. I'm going to try for two questions, as well.
PRESIDENT BUSH: No, no, please don't do that. It may be the last question
you get if you try. (Laughter.) Go ahead.
QUESTION: On this trip you've highlighted a lot of different success stories in
Africa, the countries that have been successful in fighting AIDS or on trade.
What do you hope Americans who are watching you take from your trip here?
And then, secondly, on Iraq, given the sort of day-to-day challenges facing
American soldiers there, how important, or is it increasingly important to
find Saddam Hussein and any updates on a hunt for him to really convince
people he might be gone for good?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, let me start with Iraq. Having talked to Jerry Bremer,
the man in charge of the civilian operations there, he believes that the
vast majority of Iraqi citizens are thrilled that Saddam Hussein is no longer
in power. Secondly, there's no question we've got a security issue in Iraq,
and we're just going to have to deal with person by person. We're going to
have to remain tough.
Now, part of the issue that we've got to make clear is that any terrorist
acts on infrastructure by former Baathists, for example, really are attacks
on the Iraqi people, and therefore, the more involved the Iraqi citizens
become in securing their own infrastructure, and the more involved Iraqi
citizens are in the transitional government, the more likely it is the average
citizen will understand that once again the apologists for Saddam Hussein
are bringing misery on their country.
The world will see eventually as freedom spreads that -- what Saddam Hussein
did to the mentality of the Iraqi people. I mean, we've discovered torture
chambers where people, citizens were tortured just based upon their beliefs.
We've discovered mass graves -- graves for not only men and women, but graves
for children. We discovered a prison for children -- all aimed at -- for
Saddam Hussein to intimidate the people of Iraq. And slowly, but surely,
the people of Iraq are learning the responsibility that comes with being
a free society.
We haven't been there long. I mean, relatively speaking. We've been there
for 90 to 100 days -- I don't have the exact number. But I will tell you,
it's going to take more than 90 to 100 days for people to recognize the great
joys of freedom and the responsibilities that come with freedom. We're making
steady progress. A free Iraq will mean a peaceful world. And it's very important
for us to stay the course, and we will stay the course.
The first question was about what I want Americans to know. The first thing
I wanted the leadership in Africa to know is the American people care deeply
about the pandemic that sweeps across this continent, the pandemic of HIV/AIDS;
that we're not only a powerful nation, we're also a compassionate nation.
You know, I laid out a very strong initiative on helping countries in the
continent of Africa deal with AIDS. It's a -- to me, it's an expression of
the great, good heart of the American people. It doesn't matter what political
party or what the ideology of the American citizen, the average citizen cares
deeply about the fact that people are dying in record numbers because of
HIV/AIDS. We cry for the orphan. We care for the mom who is alone. We are
concerned about the plight, and therefore, will respond as generously as
That's really the story that I want the people of Africa to hear. And I
want the people of America to know that I'm willing to take that story to
this continent and talk about the goodness of our country. And I believe
we'll be successful when it's all said and done of making our intentions