Clinton Visits Mandela

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CAPE TOWN: President Clinton arrived in South Africa this morning to be greeted by a handful of Islamic protesters proclaiming that “Zionists” weren’t welcome. That’s not likely to be the last such discordant footnote, but it's not likely to detract from Clinton’s upbeat celebration of South Africa’s post-apartheid achievement.

Addressing the country's parliament today, the President proclaimed partnership, repeated his “trade-not-aid” mantra, and dished out the plaudits to President Nelson Mandela and his anointed heir, Thabo Mbeki. Nothwithstanding the bonhomie, there may also be some tough talking between the President and his hosts. Mbeki has publicly criticized Clinton over trade issues, while South Africa’s relationships with Washington’s rogues gallery -- Cuba, Libya, Iran and others -- creates periodic spats between the two governments. But none of this will subvert the relationship between the U.S. and the nation with Africa’s strongest economy.

And what of the apologies that have become the hallmark of the trip? Asked before Clinton’s speech about any further anticipated areas of presidential remorse, Mike McCurry replied “Well, we haven’t gotten around to apartheid yet.”