This blog entry is written byNancy Brinker, Chief of Protocol at the U.S. Department of State.Benin, Africa
As part of my official duties as Chief of Protocol, I travel with the President on Official Trips oversees and ensure all aspects of the protocol portion of the trip are successful. Our first stop was in Benin after a nine hour and forty-five minute flight.
When we landed, President and Mrs. Bush were greeted by President Yayi Boni who, before becoming President of Benin was a former West African Bank Director. Upon arrival, President Bush was presented with the Grand Cross of the National Order of Benin. Watch the video.
After he and the President Yayi Boni held two meetings and then headed over the to US Embassy where President Bush greeted and met with about one hundred US State Department employees serving in Benin.
We were only in Benin for a few hours and then we jumped back on the plane and headed to Tanzania. The President travels at a quick pace and we do our best to keep up with him.
Our relations with Benin have been strong since the nineties and their embrace of democracy. The United States government assists them with long term resource development through USAID. The Peace Corps also has a very active program here with over 110 volunteers and is considered one of the most successful in Africa. And through the Millennium Challenge Account, there is a $300 million dollar grant in place to increase investment and private sector activity. President Bush launched the Millennium Challenge Account as a new model to support governments that commit to rule justly, invest in people, and encourage economic freedom. To date, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has signed seven compacts with African countries totaling $2.4 billion to fight poverty through economic growth. We got to see first hand this American generosity put to good use.
I want to thank Ambassador Gayleatha Brown for making this stop of our trip so successful.