US not to build new military bases in Africa: Bush

February 21st, 2008 - 12:21 pm ICT by admin  

Lagos, Feb 21 (Xinhua) US President George W. Bush has said that the purpose of the new Africa Command (Africom) was not to build new military bases, the News Agency of Nigeria reported. “We do not contemplate adding new bases, in other words the purpose of this is not to add military bases,” Bush was quoted as saying Wednesday at a news conference in Accra, the capital of Ghana, during his fourth leg of five-nation African tour.

He said “I know there are rumours in Ghana that ‘All Bush is doing is coming to try to convince you to put a big military base here’. That’s baloney.”

Looking to bolster the US presence in Africa, already a major supplier of crude oil to the American market, the Bush administration created Africom last year as a separate entity, compared to the past practice of splitting Africa-related operations between three other regional commands, none of which had Africa as a primary interest.

The US officials talked initially of plans to eventually transfer the headquarters of the new regional command from Stuttgart, Germany, to the African continent. However, most African countries resisted the plan.

The US has since clarified the proposal, saying Africom will not bring any more US troops or bases to the continent, since a base for around 1,500 American troops already exists in Djibouti.

“That doesn’t mean that we won’t try to develop some kind of office in Africa. We haven’t made our minds up. It’s a new concept,” Bush was quoted as saying, flanked by his Ghanaian counterpart John Kufuor.

Bush, who arrived in Accra Tuesday night after visiting Benin, Tanzania and Rwanda, is due to conclude his African tour Thursday in Liberia, the only African country that has offered to host Africom.

The trip, which started Saturday, is Bush’s second visit to the continent since he became president more than seven years ago. It is also probably the last one before his term ends in January next year.

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