Tanzanian president discusses piracy problems with Obama


DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (eTN) – On his recent visit to the United States, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete met US President Barack Obama to discuss pertinent issues facing the African continent, looking seriously at the solution to Somali piracy.

The Tanzanian president was the first African head of state to visit the White House since Mr. Obama took over the US presidency.

Their meeting, which took over in the Oval Office last week, looked upon problems facing Africa, but Somali piracy was among the key issues that dominated their bilateral talks.

It is known that Tanzania has been among African countries that have been hard hit by Somali piracy, which has disrupted ships cruising 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 the gravity of Obama and Kikwete discussions, but the problem of Somali piracy is well known to be a headache to both the US and Tanzanian governments.

Lawless Somalia, which remained without central government for 18 years now, posed a great security risk to entire Eastern African region including Tanzania, which suffered from illegal Somali immigrants.

Tourist cruise ships once popular in Tanzania have cut off their links because of the Somali piracy threat 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 between Tanzania and other nations to ensure safe passage to ships passing through the Gulf of Aden.

Tanzania is a strong partner in sub-Saharan Africa, and the two leaders met 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.