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Special Event

Clinton: 'Africa's Future Matters Because the 21st Century World has Been Transformed'

Aired February 17, 2000 - 10:53 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We take you live now to Washington, D.C., where President Clinton is speaking at the National Summit on Africa, addressing his policy on African relations.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

(APPLAUSE)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There they are, you see.

Africa matters not simply because 30 million Americans trace their heritage to Africa, though that is profoundly important.

(APPLAUSE)

Not simply because we have a strong interest in a stable and prosperous Africa, though 13 percent of our oil comes from Africa. And there are 700 million producers and consumers in Sub-Saharan Africa, though that is important.

Africa's future matters because the 21st century world has been transformed, and our views and actions must be transformed accordingly.

For most of history, the central reality in international relations was that size and location matter most. If you were a big country or on a trade or invasion route, you mattered. If not, you were marginalized.

The average American child growing up in the past saw African nations as colorful flags and exotic names on a map, perhaps read books about wonderful animals and great adventures.

When colonialism ended, the colors on the flags were changed, and there were more names on the map, but the countries did not seem nearer to most Americans. That is all changed now.

For the central reality of our time is globalization -- it is tearing down barriers between nations and people. Knowledge, contacts and trade across borders, within and between every continent are exploding. KAGAN: We've been listening for a bit to President Clinton as he speaks at the National Summit on Africa taking place today in Washington, D.C.

Let's bring in our White House correspondent, Kelly Wallace.

Kelly, here we are, two years after the president visited six African nations. Supporters say he gives more light to African policy, but critics would say it's a flawed policy.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's exactly right. Some critics say that the U.S. government is not taking the right approach, although they do credit President Clinton with putting more attention on Africa than previous administrations. And what the goal here for the president today and this summit in Washington is to try and put the spotlight on Africa and the problems in the continent, to get that message out to the American people and to U.S. businesses about the opportunities that do present themselves in Africa, and also to build support for U.S. policies on the continent.

We heard Mr. Clinton open his remarks basically quite simply, saying, I open with a simple message: Africa does matter. And he will be in his remarks trying to make the case for more debt relief, more trade and U.S. support for peacekeeping in that country.

Kelly Wallace, CNN, reporting live from the White House.

KAGAN: Kelly, thank you.

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