Saturday, 18 May 2013

TANZANIA: Media hints at US president visit to Tanzania

President of Tanzania Jakaya Mrisho (left)KIkwete shares something with US President Barack Obama 

By The Citizen Reporters & Agencies  (email the author)

Posted  Friday, May 17  2013 at  20:49

Dar es Salaam. President Barack Obama’s trip to Africa next month may include Tanzania, but the government said yesterday that it has not been officially informed of the visit.
Foreign and International Cooperation minister Bernard Membe said they were aware of the US president’s tour but they had not been informed of his coming here.
“We are waiting for official confirmation on the visit,” he told The Citizen on Saturday in a text message.
Reports in the Nigerian press yesterday said President Obama would begin his second tour of Africa at the end of next month with visits to South Africa, Tanzania and Rwanda.
Efforts to confirm the visit with US officials in the country failed because the American embassy in Dar es Salaam closes for business before noon, when reports of the tour emerged.
An information specialist in the embassy’s public affairs section, Ms Halima Mbaruku, said she was not aware of the visit. She said the embassy closes at 11am on Fridays.
“President Barack Obama of the United States is billed to begin his second tour of Africa at the end of June with visits to South Africa, Tanzania and Rwanda,” the influential News Day reported yesterday. “He will, however, make a stop-over in Nigeria, during which he will hold bilateral discussions with President Goodluck Jonathan and other top government officials.”
The initial plan for the African tour, according to the paper, was that Mr Obama would spend two days in Nigeria. But owing to insecurity due to the activities of the militant group, Boko Haram, the plan was reviewed and he is now expected to spend just a few hours or a day in the country. President Obama’s maiden visit to Africa took him to Ghana in July 2009, during which he met with President John Atta Mills, now deceased.
In February 2008, Tanzania hosted his predecessor, Mr George W. Bush, who also visited Rwanda. Highlights of the successful state visit included signing of a $698 million grant under the Millennium Challenge Account arrangement.
Mid-last month, US Secretary of State John Kerry told a US congressional committee that President Barack Obama “will travel” to Africa. He offered no details regarding the timing and itinerary of the trip.
The visit comes amid growing concern in Washington about China’s role in sub-Saharan Africa, with pressure mounting for President Obama to pay more direct attention to the continent. As was the case in 2009, Mr Obama is unlikely to visit Kenya, where his father was born.
Africa specialists in the US say a visit to East Africa’s largest economy would not be possible as long as President Uhuru Kenyatta remains under indictment by the International Criminal Court.

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