Bush embarks on Africa trip

Updated: 2008-02-16 14:51

WASHINGTON - US President George W. Bush left here Friday afternoon, embarking on a five-nation tour of Africa, his second visit to the continent since he took office in 2001.

According to the itinerary released by the White House, Bush and his wife Laura will land in Benin Saturday to begin the trip. After a brief stop, he then heads to Tanzania.

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, Friday, Feb. 15, 2008, as they begin their trip to Africa. The president will visit Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia. [Agencies] 

The week-long trip will also bring Bush to Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia.

During his visit, Bush is expected to visit hospitals, schools, AIDS and malaria projects.

In Tanzania, he will sign the biggest ever grant of 698 million US dollars to fund water, energy and infrastructure.

Previously, Bush administration officials said the trip is aimed to show the caring side of the US policy towards Africa.  

"The trip will be an opportunity to demonstrate America's commitment to the people of these countries and to Africa as a whole," White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley told reporters Thursday.

Analysts said the trip focused on a number of strategic issues and all the countries on his itinerary are related to US strategic interests.

Geopolitical interests will also play a role in the trip, including the newly-formed US Africa command (AFRICOM).

Before his arrival, the trip was met by protests in Tanzania and Rwanda.

Protesters said the president's visit is for his own benefits instead of caring about the people there.

Bush last visited Africa in 2003.

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