(AP) Democratic President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush are proving that it's a small world after all, with an extraordinary chance encounter a long way from home.
Obama and his Republican predecessor plan to appear together briefly Tuesday, when by coincidence both will be in the same city on Africa's east coast promoting development on the continent. Obama is on the final day of a weeklong tour of the continent, while the George W. Bush Institute is hosting a two-day summit on African women.
Initially the two men had no plans to meet, but the White House announced Monday that they would gather at a memorial for Americans killed in the U.S. Embassy bombing here nearly 15 years ago. They plan to lay a wreath in honor of the 11 Americans who died in the attack masterminded by Osama bin Laden, along with a near-simultaneous bombing at the U.S. Embassy in neighboring Kenya.
Meanwhile, first lady Michelle Obama and Laura Bush planned to appear together on a panel at the conference on empowering African women. President Bush plans to deliver his own speech there Wednesday, after the Obamas have returned to Washington.
Obama has credited Bush with helping save millions of lives by funding AIDS treatment. "I'm looking forward to being able, on African soil, to once again thank him on behalf of the American people for showing how American generosity and foresight could end up making a real difference in people's lives," Obama said Monday.
But Obama also said he wants to change the approach the U.S. takes with Africa. "We are looking at a new model that's based not just on aid and assistance, but on trade and partnership," he said.
"Ultimately, the goal here is for Africa to build Africa for Africans," Obama said. "And our job is to be a partner in that process."
In that spirit, Obama has announced a new trade agreement with eastern African nations and a program to bring more power to Africans who don't have access to electricity. His final event Tuesday is a speech at Tanzania's Ubungo Power Plant, which was funded by a U.S. grant and built by American corporations Symbion and General Electric.
"There's enormous potential here in Tanzania to start getting electricity out into villages in rural areas, more reliable service that can then power manufacturing, power new businesses which creates more jobs, creates more demand," Obama explained.
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