WASHINGTON (AP) _ Federal transportation officials recommend no expansion of air services between the United States and African nations until air safety in parts of Africa improves, Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater said Thursday.

``Our vision is very simple _ we want to get there and we want you to get here. Aviation must be the tie that binds,'' Slater in a speech to the African Directors General of Civil Aviation during a meeting in Montreal.

``But it cannot happen until the safety of the air transportation system in certain parts of Africa is improved.''

Copies of Slater's speech were made available in Washington.

The gathering was part of a conference held by the International Civil Aviation Organization, which coordinates international aviation and recommends safety standards for individual countries to apply to their airlines.

Developing aviation markets has never been a commercial priority for U.S. air carriers, but that should change as the nation's economic and cultural ties to Africa begin to expand, Slater said.

``Aviation policies must change, too, and they must make ready an environment that will encourage airlines to respond to and to stimulate market growth,'' he said.

Slater said U.S. officials are prepared to take several steps to expand air services to Africa. He said the United States would be willing to explore ``open skies'' agreements that could lift restrictions on flights and fare.

The Federal Aviation Administration also is prepared to offer help in bringing air navigation and airport security standards up to par with international levels, he said.