Tanzanian President meets Obama, piracy problem discussed


During his ongoing weeklong visit to the United States, Tanzanian President Mr. Jakaya Kikwete met the American President Mr. Barack Obama and discussed pertinent issues facing the African continent, looking seriously into finding the solution to Somali piracy.

The Tanzanian President who arrived in the US early this week is the first African head of state to visit the White House since Mr. Obama took over the US Presidency.

Their meeting took place in the Oval Office Thursday and the problems facing Africa have been discussed, but Somali piracy was one of the major issues dominating their bilateral talks.

It is known that Tanzania is among African countries that have been hit hard by Somali piracy, which disrupted shipping lines near the Horn of Africa. Almost 200 ships including cargo and tourist cruise liners have been hijacked by Somali pirates during the past two years.

Sources from Mr. Kikwete’s tour could not disclose all of the details of Obama and Kikwete discussion, but the problem of Somali piracy is well known to be a headache to both the American and Tanzanian governments.

The lawless Somalia which has remained without central government for 18 years now, poses a great security risk to entire Eastern African region including Tanzania which suffers from illegal Somali immigrants.

Tourist cruise ships once frequent in Tanzania have cut off their links because of the Somali piracy along the Indian Ocean coast on Eastern and Southern Africa.

Last month Tanzania announced its commitment to join other international security institutions in the war against Somali piracy. Military operations are jointly being carried by Tanzania and other nations to ensure safe passage of the ships through the Gulf of Aden.

Statement issued by the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam said President Barack Obama looks forward to welcoming President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania to the Oval Office on Thursday, May 21, 2009.

Tanzania is a strong partner in sub-Saharan Africa, and the two leaders are meeting to discuss a wide range of regional and bilateral issues, including how the United States can support sound governance, economic development, and stability throughout the continent.

President Obama looks forward to working closely with President Kikwete to tackle shared challenges, including the global financial crisis and its impact on sub-Saharan Africa.