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06ACCRA143 2006-01-18 17:53:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Accra
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					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ACCRA 000143 


E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: First Lady Laura Bush visited Ghana on January
15-17 in what will be remembered as a highlight in U.S.-Ghana
relations. Accompanied by daughter Barbara, she launched the
Africa Education Initiative Textbooks and Learning Materials
Program in Africa, visited an HIV/AIDS clinic in a local
hospital, and attended a lunch at the Castle hosted by
President John Kufuor. The visit generated major local and
international press. End summary.

2. First Lady Laura Bush arrived in Ghana late on January
15, traveled to Liberia for the inauguration of President
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on January 16, and returned for a half
day of events in Accra on January 17. She was accompanied by
daughter Barbara and Dr. Cindy Courville of the NSC.

Launching the Africa Education Initiative


3. The First Lady arrived in Ghana to a welcome by senior
government officials and a red carpet review of traditional
dancers and drummers. President Kufuor stopped by the
Ambassador's residence to welcome her shortly after arrival.
She began her day on January 17 at the Accra Teacher,s
Training College, where she launched President Bush,s Africa
Education Initiative (AEI) Textbooks and Learning Materials
Program in Africa. She witnessed the signing of a Memorandum
of Understanding between the USG (with Ambassador Pamela
Bridgewater signing on behalf of USAID), the Government of
Ghana, and Chicago State University to implement the Ghana
program. (Note: In addition to this Ghana partnership, the
AEI program links four other U.S. universities in
partnerships to provide 15 million text books to primary
schools in South Africa, Senegal, Zambia, Tanzania. End
note.) In her remarks, the First Lady highlighted the U.S.
commitment to strengthening educational opportunities in
Africa and announced the donation of 25,000 books to schools
in Ghana. President Kufuor joined the event, with an
audience of around 750 teachers and students.

Visiting an HIV/AIDS Treatment Center


4. The First Lady then visited the Fevers HIV/AIDS treatment
and care unit at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra.
This integrated HIV/AIDS treatment and care site was one of
the first AIDS treatment programs funded through U.S.
government assistance and is one of the first sites using
antiretrovirals in Africa. Mrs. Bush toured the clinic and
spoke with in-patients as well as a group of women and
children living with HIV/AIDS, who highlighted the stigma and
discrimination against HIV/AIDS patients and some of the
special problems faced by women and children infected with

Lunch at the Castle


5. After a meet-and-greet and photo ops with Mission staff
and Peace Corps volunteers at the Ambassador's Residence, the
First Lady went to the Castle for a tour of the slave
dungeons (the Castle was once a slave trading fort) and a
lunch hosted by President Kufuor. Guests included the
Ambassador, the presidents of the U.S. universities in the
AEI Textbooks and Learning Materials Program, and four GOG
ministers. In his toast President Kufour praised President
Bush (who he dubbed "the busiest" man in the world") for
sending his better half to Ghana. He expressed special
appreciation for U.S. assistance, particularly Ghana's
expected signing of a $500 million MCA compact. The First
Lady responded by noting the warm hospitality she had been
shown in Ghana and expressed appreciation for Ghana's
friendship and support to the U.S. The two also exchanged

Extensive Media Coverage


6. Local media coverage of Mrs. Bush,s visit was extensive
and generally positive. Each of Ghana's four television
stations, state-owned Radio Ghana, and Accra,s two most
popular private radio stations (Peace FM, Joy FM) carried
coverage of the first and last days of the First Lady's
three-day stay. Ghana's two largest papers, the state-owned
Daily Graphic and Ghanaian Times, and independents Daily Mail
and Daily Guide ran front-page stories for these days as
well. National wire service Ghana News Agency provided
considerable coverage on its website and in
selected print outlets.

7. Most articles focused on the launch of the Africa
Education Initiative and devoted significant space to
straightforward and factual accounts of the initiative and
Mrs. Bush's commitment to education. Visits with HIV/AIDS
patients at Korle-Bu Hospital and President Kufuor at the
Castle received positive but limited coverage because of
controlled media access. State-owned Ghana Television ran an
eight-minute summary of the First Lady,s visit as the first
item on its January 17 evening news.

8. The Daily Mail carried a January 16 editorial entitled
"Akwaaba (welcome) Laura Bush" that urged the First Lady to
convince President Bush of the importance of African
development and growth. The visit also generated significant
international press, including articles filed from the press
pool of Reuters, the Associated Press and the Washington



9. Mrs. Bush,s visit was a high point in U.S.-Ghana
relations, only the second-ever visit of a U.S. First Lady,
since Hillary Clinton's visit. Mrs. Bush clearly enjoyed her
stay and was particularly impressed with the impact that
organizations of persons living with HIV/AIDS can have in
fighting stigma and discrimination. Post was delighted with
the visit and we appreciate the support we received from the
Department, USAID Washington, and the White House.