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President Bush urged Congress on Wednesday to authorize an additional $30 billion to fight AIDS in Africa over five years, doubling the current U.S. commitment. The money would provide treatment for 2.5 million people under the President's Emergency Program for AIDS Relief, White House press secretary Tony Snow said. Through March 31, the program has supported treatment for 1.1 million people in 15 countries, including more than 1 million in Africa, Snow said. The program's original five-year mandate, which called for spending $15 billion, expires in September 2008.
Snow said the specific goals for the next five years, after Bush leaves office, call for treatment of 2.5 million people, prevention of more than 12 million new infections, and the care of more than 12 million people, including 5 million orphans and children.
The White House also announced that Bush's wife, Laura, will visit four African countries--Zambia, Mali, Mozambique, and Senegal--that have benefited from the U.S. program. The trip will take place June 25-29.
The president's announcement comes before next week's annual summit of industrialized nations in Heiligendamm, Germany. Germany is pledging to make Africa a central point and is calling for more aid, further debt relief, and improved financial oversight. (AP)