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Bill For Clinton Safari Is $43M

Standing before the United Nations on Tuesday, President Clinton could claim what no other president before him could - that he has visited 59 countries of the UN - making him the most traveled president in history, CBS News White House Correspondent John Roberts reports.

But for the first time, we have learned how much that globetrotting is costing the American public.

"Trips to Africa, China and Chile in 1998 cost the taxpayers a total of $72.1 million," says Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho.

The figures are from a new General Accounting Office report, commissioned by Republican senators. The most expensive of the three trips, a six-country swing through Africa, cost $42.8 million.

"The trip to Africa included 1,300 travelers," Craig says.

The bulk of the cost was borne by the Defense Department's military readiness budget. Ironic, say senators, given reports that the Air Force ran out of bombs in the conflict over Kosovo.

"The amount of money on these three trips would have acquired 3,000 smart bombs," says Craig.

The president contends that these trips may one day reduce the need for bombs by promoting peace and prosperity. And, aides say, taking the leader of the Free World around it is inherently expensive.

"We are the lone remaining superpower in the world. The president needs the ability to handle any crisis any time, anywhere. That comes at a cost," says White House spokesman Joe Lockhart.

With 15 months left in his term, the globetrotting president is showing no signs of slowing down. Greece, Turkey and Italy are already on the schedule, with India, Pakistan and even Vietnam a possibility.

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