CAPE TOWN, South Africa, March 26, -- President Clinton has praised South Africa's emergence from apartheid and into the 'glorious light' of democracy and vowed the United States will work to help make South Africa a strong nation. Speaking to South Africa's Parliament in Cape Town, Clinton, the first U.S. president to visit the new, multiracial democracy, said, 'America wants a strong South Africa, and we are determined to work with you as you build a strong South Africa.' Clinton said, 'For millions upon millions of Americans, South Africa's story is embodied by your heroic sacrifice and your breathtaking walk out of the darkness and into the glorious light.' Clinton's address to Parliament came on the first day of his three- day stop in South Africa, which will include a visit Friday with Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison fighting against apartheid. Clinton told Parliament that South Africa has 'every reason to be hopeful.' He said in the four years since the nation broke the shackles of apartheid, 'you've worked hard to deepen your democracy, to spread prosperity, to educate all your people and to strengthen the hand of justice.' South Africa's success, Clinton said, is important for the world as well as for the United States. He said the United States 'has a profound and pragmatic stake' in South Africa's success. He said the United States, like South Africa, needs 'strong partners' to build prosperity and to fight terrorism, international crime and drug trafficking, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the spread of disease 'and the degradation of our common environment.
These perils do not stop at any nation's borders.' NAACP President Kweisi Mfume praised Clinton's speech while saying he wants to see action meet the words. Mfume, part of the U.S. delegation in Africa, said Clinton's message 'is saying what a lot of us have tried to say for many years and that is not only does Africa exist, it matters and because it matters he's here.' But he added, 'Now, what we do after that really determines whether or not this has real worth rather than just an airing of polite words.' Clinton's stop in South Africa is the only official state visit of the trip. National security adviser Sandy Berger said Clinton had looked forward to 'speaking to the triumph and the trial of multiracial democracies and the common challenges we face to build societies based on political pluralism.' ---
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