Mandela, Bush discuss debt relief

18 May 2005

Former South African president Nelson Mandela and US President George Bush discussed the battle against Aids in Africa and ways to reduce developing country debt in a meeting on Tuesday.

Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, met Bush at the White House during a private visit to the United States, the SA Press Association (Sapa) reported. The visit was to promote the Nelson Mandela Legacy Trust, which supports Mandela’s African-based charities.

“The president was pleased to welcome Mandela back to the White House,” White House spokesperson Scott McClellan said. “The two leaders had a very good discussion.

“They talked about the importance of combating Aids in Africa. They also discussed debt forgiveness for developing countries in Africa.”

During the 20-minute talk, Bush noted that the United States was committed to debt relief, and said the issue would be discussed at the Group of Eight summit in Scotland in July.

“It was something Mandela brought up, and the president talked about how it’s a priority topic for us at the upcoming G8 summit and that we would be talking about it more at that summit,” said McClellan.

He said Bush “expressed his appreciation for Mandela’s leadership and courage”.

On Monday, Sapa reported, Mandela said democracy was spreading in Africa, adding that “true democracy cannot be imposed”. He was speaking at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think-tank.

“Democracy must be home-grown and the product of consensus,” Mandela said. He also discussed the war in Iraq.

“I endorse president Bush’s call for liberty everywhere, although it is no secret that I have not always supported some means used to achieve this end, particularly in Iraq,” Mandela told the institution’s audience.

“Such disagreements are not uncommon among friends. In fact, they are a mark of strong, straightforward and honest friendship.

“Freedom, after all, means nothing to someone left to die at the mercy of preventable and treatable diseases,” Mandela said.

SouthAfrica.info reporter