Office of the Press Secretary
(Accra, Ghana)

For Immediate Release March 23, 1998


President Rawlings: Let me just take this opportunity to welcome each and every one of you to Ghana, and quite frankly, if I had the choice I would have suggested that you visit a place like Ghana in the month of August when it?s nice and cool. So while you?re here under this hot, blazing African sun, do everything you can to -- what do you call -- put in as much fluid as you can in order to fight the dehydrative effect of the tropics. But, as the same time, if you keep away from the shades, the wives and the husbands would be missing the chance of a nice suntan before you leave the tropics.

Let me say that as short as this visit is, I think what?s most important is the content. And there? no doubt that the agenda that?s been drawn out would be an issue that takes on the serious subjects that concern Africa, an issue that?s been initiated by the President and members of his Cabinet. That?s most welcome to this continent.

Let me remind you, ladies and gentlemen, 27 years from now, as I said to some of our colleagues in the CNN yesterday, that the population of this continent or sub-Saharan Africa will be doubling to about 1.5 billion. And if we don?t take the appropriate measures both from the economic standpoint and the political standpoint, to lay the foundation towards development and peace, I?m afraid we?ll be running down the hill.

However, I feel very hopeful and very confident that the measures we?ve taken and a good number of African countries, we?re beginning to register a healthy economic upturn. The political stability that?s returning to this continent, no doubt, I believe is what must have encouraged the President and his colleagues to take on this issue to do what they can to assist the efforts that we?re putting in Africa.

And for this, I would like to welcome him, his wife, his -- our dear Chelsea -- we?ll talk about her later -- and members of his Cabinet. And I?m so glad that we have Reverend Minister Jackson also as a member of the delegation.

And -- what else? Talking about the eight-hour period. Let me explain that in politics there are times I believe that we spend the least time with those who have the least problems. It?s hot naturally so all the time. I mean, there are times when we can relax and spend a lot of time with those that we have so much in common. But quite frankly, the relationship between the U.S. and Ghana has been so healthy, so much foundation has been laid, that, quite frankly, I believe there?s no turning back in terms of the progress that?s been made. And I can only see a forward movement.

And let me simply end up by saying that please, you?ve come at the wrong time of the season -- not in economic or political terms, but the hot, blazing sun. So please do what you can to -- not to dehydrate yourself. Do what you can to take in as much liquids as you can, and don?t miss out on the sun.

Thank you very much.

Q Mr. President Clinton, have you spoken with --

PRESIDENT RAWLINGS: Can we make this just the one and only question, because -- let?s put it this way, I don?t want to share the limited time that I have with the President. I have only, barely -- no, about eight hours from now. And our colleagues are waiting in the Cabinet for a meeting. Beyond that, our people have been waiting from 5:00 am and there are hundreds of thousands, chiefs, elders, children, et cetera. I don?t want anybody fainting. Neither do I think President Clinton would like to see that happen.

Q It?s only one, sir.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I?ll take one question.

Q Thank you, sir. Have you spoken with President Yeltsin? Are you concerned about his dismissal of his cabinet? Do you think you understand what is behind it or what the effect will be, sir?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Let me say, first of all, I have not spoken with him. I found out about it this morning when I woke up. And until I know more, I don?t think I should say much, except that we don?t interfere in the internal affairs of any country, and as President, he has to constitute the government as he sees fit. We hope that the general direction of policy will be unaffected by this, and I have no reason to believe that it -- that anything different will occur in a way that?s at all adverse to the partnership we?ve been building with Russia. If I know anything else in the next few hours I?ll be glad to tell you.

Let me also thank President Rawlings for welcoming me here. I have very much looked forward to coming to Ghana, especially since the first time we met in the White House. I admire the direction this nation is taking under his leadership, and I want to make the most of this next eight hours. So we better go to work so we can get out there and see the people, too.

PRESIDENT RAWLINGS: Thank you very much, sir.


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