US President Barack Obama Friday vowed the United States would remain the "stalwart partner" of democracies in Africa as he met with four leaders from French-speaking African nations.
Obama welcomed the new president of Ivory Coast Alassane Ouattara along with Benin's President Boni Yayi, President Alpha Conde of Guinea and President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger to the White House.
He praised them as "four leaders of nations that represent Africa's democratic progress, which is vital to a stable and prosperous and just Africa, but is also critical to the stability and prosperity of the world."
The talks came three months after the end of a violent post-electoral crisis that shook Ivory Coast and mark the first meeting between Obama and Ouattara since the latter took power.
An estimated 3,000 people died in a bloody standoff after Ouattara defeated Laurent Gbagbo in the November polls, but Gbagbo refused to cede power.
"All these leaders were elected through free and fair elections," Obama stressed. "They've shown extraordinary persistence... despite significant risks to their own personal safety and despite enormous challenges, most recently in Cote d'Ivoire."
"But because of their fortitude and the determination of the people to live in democratic free societies, they have been able to arrive at a position of power that is supported by the legitimate will of their peoples, and as such they can serve as effective models for the continent."