Obama urges Gabon's Bongo to root out corruption

WASHINGTON Fri Jun 10, 2011 2:05am EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama talks with Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimada (L) in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, June 9, 2011. REUTERS/Larry Downing

U.S. President Barack Obama talks with Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimada (L) in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, June 9, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday pressed Gabon's ruler Ali Bongo Ondimba in a White House meeting to do more to fight corruption and prevent human rights abuse.

"President Obama urged President Bongo Ondimba to take bold steps to root out corruption and to reform the judiciary and other key institutions to ensure the protection of human rights," the White House said in a statement.

France's highest court in November reopened the path for a corruption investigation into assets held in France by Gabon's ruling family, a charge that it rejects.

The White House defended Obama's decision to meet with Bongo in the Oval Office, noting Gabon currently holds the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council.

"I think that it's a little naive to believe that the President of the United States should not meet with leaders who don't meet all the standards that we would have for perfect governance," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

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