DAKAR, Senegal -- Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau considers his African and latin-American tour a bridge-building mission between the rich and poor nations, he said Sunday before flying to a low-key reception in Dakar.
Trudeau defended his truncated four-nation trip and the efforts of western nations to meet Third World concerns in a news conference before flying from Nigeria to French-speaking Senegal on Africa's west coast.
'Global negotiations are going on at the United Nations which are attempting to solve the problem of very rich and very poor countries by building bridges between them,' he told reporters at Maiduguri airport in northern Nigeria.
'I believe this process can be helped by personal meetings between governments of the (industrialized) north and governments of some of the (poor) southern countries. That's why I am visiting Nigeria, Senegal and Brazil.'
Trudeau's welcome in Dakar was simple and relatively unheralded compared to the colorful greeting he received Thursday in Nigeria.
He was met by Senegal's president Abdou Diouf at the state guest house, where three crown cranes, resembling peacocks, strutted about the well-kept grounds will little regard for the occasion.
The two leaders get down to serious talks Monday, where Trudeau will continue his discussion of North-South issues. Senegal, a poor country, has been the recipient of Canadian aid money and is expected to be a willing listener.
The leaders will also discuss the creation of a 'francophonie' or French-speaking counterpart to the British Commonwealth. Senegal, as a francophone country, is a proponent of such an organization.
However, a recently-scheduled conference on the matter to have taken place in Senegal was cancelled when France backed out, reportedly because the Trudeau government would not allow Quebec to sent a separate delegation.
At his Maiduguri news conference, Trudeau said also the industrialized countries were prepared to make concessions on economic power to help underdeveloped countries.
Throughout his 2 -day visit to Nigeria, the prime minister heard complaints about the rigidity shown by northern countries to the south's demands for change.
The industrialized nations may be a bit too rigid, Trudeau conceded, but he warned the Third World must learn to speak with a united voice if it wants the north to listen.
'That the north in attempting to meet with the south at the Brant summit (a north-south mini-summit planned for Mexico in June) is evidence to them that we are looking for solutions,' Trudeau said.
'There will always be complaints by the south that we are not going fast enough.'
Trudeau traveled Saturday to the Moslem part of northern Nigeria to view the local customs that dated back thousands of years. A ceremony called a durbar, a colorful panorama of music and horsemanship, was held to honor his visit to Borno state in Nigeria's desert area.
The prime minister attended a banquet in his honor Saturday night and visited a local market Sunday morning.
Earlier in the weekend, Trudeau drew enthusiastic applause from his Nigerian hosts at a state dinner when he affirmed 'Canada's unwaivering opposition to the practice and policy of apartheid in South Africa.'
However, the prime minister received stern words from Nigerian President Alhaji Shehu Shagari during their north-south discussions, which lasted only 35 minutes instead of the scheduled hour.
Shagari told Trudeau the negotiations to realign the world's wealth have so far generated nothing more than words, adding that the rich have a vested interest in a status quo that preserves their world dominance.
However, Trudeau insisted his efforts to improve north-south relations were worthwhile. 'I will never regret having tried even if I don't succeed,' he said, 'and I think it's better to try than pretend the problem doesn't exist.'