STUTTGART, Germany - Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the third-highest ranking leader in the U.S. government, visited U.S. Africa Command on May 10, 2010, and said a stable and secure Africa helps to improve the stability and security of the United States.

Pelosi, a congresswoman from California, visited U.S. AFRICOM headquarters in Stuttgart as part of a four-day visit to U.S. military facilities overseas.

"This is a very important issue, the issue of security and development in Africa to the national security of the United States," Pelosi said.

In Stuttgart, Pelosi met with Gen. William E. Ward, commander of U.S. AFRICOM. She received briefings on the command's work in providing military support to U.S. foreign policy in African nations. She was also briefed on operations with NATO partners in Afghanistan and Iraq and U.S. European Command activities in Europe.

The Speaker is no stranger to Africa.

"I met my husband at a course called the History of Africa South of the Sahara, and I have been studying Africa for decades," Pelosi said in a brief interview.

"At long last the United States and the world is treating the continent, and individual countries, with the respect that they deserve," she added.

At the conclusion of her U.S. AFRICOM engagement, Pelosi said that she was leaving confident "that General Ward and all of those working with him have a respectful attitude to the countries of Africa, want to work with them to develop solutions, and I have confidence that they will succeed."

During her overseas tour, Pelosi visited with troops in Afghanistan, U.S. Central Command at Qatar's Al Udeid Air Base in the Middle East. During her Germany stopover, in addition to U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart, she visited U.S. Air Forces Europe, Ramstein Air Base and wounded warriors from Afghanistan and Iraq at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

Under U.S. law, if the president and vice president are unable to perform their elected duties, the Speaker of the House of Representatives acts as president of the United States.