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September 23, 1998

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Together, Americans and Africans and people across the world must work for education, opportunity, advances in science and technology. We must safeguard human rights and battle crime, disease and environmental peril. We must conquer racial, religious, end ethnic hatreds and build tolerance and understanding. We should not rest until freedom's bells resound and freedom's fruits are abundant, in every corner of this Earth.

President Bill Clinton
September 23, 1998

Today, President Clinton presents President Nelson Mandela with the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of his life-long dedication to the abolition of apartheid and the promotion of reconciliation among the people of South Africa.

Honoring A Leader In The Struggle For Human Rights. President Clinton is pleased to welcome South African President Nelson Mandela to Washington and to present him with the Congressional Gold Medal. President Mandela, a political activist whose opposition to apartheid in South Africa led to his imprisonment for 27 years, stands as an example to all who struggle against tyranny in support of freedom. Since President Mandela became President of South Africa, he has worked tirelessly to support racial reconciliation among his people. During his trip to South Africa last spring, the President reinforced our nation's support of these efforts.

Supporting Africa's Progress Toward The 21st Century. President Clinton heralded a new era of promise in Africa's development when he became the first sitting President to visit Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, Botswana, and Senegal. The President highlighted the progress many African leaders have achieved in promoting democracy, human rights and economic growth in their countries. Despite recent events since the President's trip to Africa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the persistence of violent conflicts there, many African nations have continued to make progress: democracy is returning to Nigeria, dictators have been deposed in Sierra Leone, war criminals have been brought to justice in Rwanda, and Botswana was recognized as the fastest growing economy in the world. President Clinton is committed to help make this success a reality for all African nations. As President Mandela said at the White House yesterday evening,"President Clinton is a friend of South Africa and Africa."

President Clinton: Strengthening Ties With Africa. Throughout his six years in office, President Clinton has sought to strengthen America's partnership with the nations of Africa by:

  • Meeting with more African heads of state than any previous President and improving Cabinet-level contacts through recent visits to Africa by Secretaries Albright, Rubin, Daley and Slater;
  • Launching the "President's Partnership for Economic Opportunity in Africa Initiative," which serves as the cornerstone of our Africa policy and offers a comprehensive strategy for promoting trade, investment and development;
  • Assisting peacekeeping operations in Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Central Africa;
  • Supporting humanitarian operations in Sudan, Guinea Bissau and Central Africa;
  • Appointing the Rev. Jesse Jackson Presidential Special Envoy to Africa;
  • Hosting the first-ever White House Conference on Africa in July 1994 and hosting the U.S.-Africa Economic Cooperation Forum in December 1998

President Clinton Calls Upon Congress to Support Trade with Africa. President Clinton has made passage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act one of his top legislative priorities this year. This bill will increase trade U.S.-Africa trade while supporting those nations that endorse democracy and free markets.

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