WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- President George W. Bush was scheduled to meet the presidents of Kenya and Ethiopia on Thursday to discuss the war on terrorism and other issues, the White House said Monday.
Kenya is a long-time ally of the United States, and reports have indicated the United States would like to gain access to the Ethiopian port of Assab on the Red Sea, a base for Soviet vessels in the late 1970s and '80s when Ethiopia was ruled by a Marxist-leaning government.
The White House said that in addition to the war on terrorism, Bush would also discuss humanitarian aid, the AIDS crisis in Africa and economic stability with Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi and Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi.
Ethiopia was a U.S. ally until 1978 -- nominally from 1974 -- when the country's ruling body of military personnel who overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie -- head of the military government known as the dergue -- aligned with Moscow during the Ethiopia-Somalia Ogaden War.
Dergue strongman Mengistu Haile Mariam fled the country for Zimbabwe in 1991 after he was toppled by ethnic and military dissidents.
Bush telephoned Moi early Monday to express his personal condolences to the Kenyan leader and to the country for the loss of life last week resulting from a terrorist bombing of an Israeli-owned tourist hotel on Kenya's north coast.
Although no definitive suspects have been named, it is believed al Qaida could have been involved.
Al Qaida is the Islamist organization the United States has held responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon that claimed nearly 3,000 lives.
It is also believed responsible for the earlier bombing of U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
The White House said Bush offered U.S. assistance in the investigation into last week's bombing that claimed 13 lives, and expressed U.S. determination to help run down the perpetrators.