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Mandela disagrees with Bush on how to spread freedom

Japan Today | May 17, 2005

WASHINGTON — Former South African leader Nelson Mandela said Monday that he backs U.S. President George W Bush's call for global "liberty" but disagrees with some of his methods.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate insisted however it was just a disagreement among friends. Mandela, 86, will meet Bush at the White House on Tuesday.

Mandela gave his thoughts on the best way to spread democracy in a speech at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington. "It is a pleasure to be among friends," he told the audience.

"I endorse President Bush's call for liberty everywhere, although it is no secret that I have not always supported some means used to achieve this end, particularly in Iraq," Mandela told the audience.

"Such disagreements are not uncommon among friends, in fact they are a mark of strong straightforward and honest friendship," he explained.

Mandela was a harsh critic of the U.S.-led war invasion of Iraq that deposed dictator Saddam Hussein and of Washington's policies in Iraq. Bush has since put Iraq at the center of his campaign to spread freedom in the world.

"Even if we could terminate all forms of tyranny everywhere, we would have to be aware that true democracy requires not only freedom, but greater fairness," said Mandela. "This is the new struggle, and for post-apartheid South Africa our biggest task."

Mandela is pushing his priorities for combatting HIV/AIDS in Africa during a private visit to the United States.

He stressed that the right to liberty also includes the right to health care.

"Freedom, after all, means nothing to someone left to die at the mercy of these preventable and treatable diseases," Mandela added.

The visit is dedicated to presenting his Nelson Mandela Legacy Trust, a U.S.-based organization that will collect funds for three foundations that he sponsors to fight AIDS and to encourage education in Africa.

Mandela, who announced his withdrawal from public life last year, now walks slowly with the aid of a white cane and appears clearly in pain when he moves. His presence is still dramatic however. (Wire reports)

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