Symposium revisits 60 years of US ties

21Dec 2021
Getrude Mbago
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Symposium revisits 60 years of US ties
  • JK recalls August 1998 embassy bombing

​​​​​​​FORMER President Jakaya Kikwete yesterday explained how he spent his tenure as foreign minister and Head of State to strengthen diplomatic relations with countries across the world, to enable Tanzania to achieve its targeted development endeavours.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam at a symposium to examine the US- Tanzania partnership through the decades, dubbed ‘The Pamoja Sixty Conference Series,’ Dr Kikwete said that for any country to succeed socially and economically, creating close and peaceful relations with other nations is a matter of paramount importance.

The symposium was organized by REPOA and the US Embassy, where the retired president was a special guest, citing development cooperation as an important dimension of international relations.

Diplomatic efforts are meant to ensure that international relations are nurtured to maintain peace and security as well as maximize benefits to the people of the respective states, he declared, acknowledging that the past 60 years has seen a strong relationship between Tanzania and the United States.

It has brought about landmark outcomes in several areas including in the education sector, he stated, recalling how the US government has since independence support the country’s development endeavours in education, health, water and agriculture, along with democracy and human rights concerns, adding to infrastructures and technology.

Dr Kikwete insisted on Tanzania building a good relationship with the rest of the world, which beefs up its ability to maintain internal cohesion and security against any outside threats, including incursions across the country’s borders.

“When I was foreign minister my focus was building relationships which I continued when I became president, ensuring that we were friendly with the rest of the world,” explaining how he put effort into building a concentric circle with neighbouring countries, SADC member states, the African continent and the international arena.

He vividly recalled the ordeal of the August 1998 bombing of the American embassy, saying that despite that the incident took lives and maimed a number of other people; it strengthened US-Tanzania cooperation in security matters

This incident illustrated the importance of a country having good relations with the rest of the world to protect its borders from threats. “I remember that day very well. I was supposed to travel to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe with President Mkapa when I got a call about the incident,” he told participants.

“I was at home preparing to go to the airport, but I had to leave everything and rush to the incident area to console the victims,” he said, explaining that he then went to the airport and flew to Victoria Falls.

There he received a call from the US government informing him that a unit from US security organs was flying to the country and nobody should pick a metal from the place, after which he called the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to inform him of the development.

“The bombing brought up the need for closer relationship and cooperation between security organs of   Tanzania and the US,” he affirmed.

Dr Donald Mmari, the REPOA executive director said the conference marks many years of cooperation and US connections with Tanzania, but also the beginning of even stronger connections in the years to come. “We are here to revisit the two countries’ relations in the research aspect,” he stated.

The need for connections and cooperation in the diplomatic front remains critical, as diplomacy today has become more proactive, multidirectional and innovative than it was in the past, he said.

“The world is becoming increasingly interconnected, as evidenced by how external events exert impacts on the domestic economic, social and political aspects of life. The international agenda is constantly changing, with new subjects emerging and occupying the attention of global leaders and global governance structures,” the director underlined.

The conference will not only reflect on many years of cooperation and U.S. connections with Tanzania, but also how to further strengthen these connections in the coming years, he reaffirmed.

US Ambassador Dr Donald Wright stressed that all projects implemented by the US government and other agencies in Tanzania for the past 60 years have brought positive changes that will continue impacting other generations.

He commended Tanzania for using diplomacy and mediation to resolve conflicts among neighbours, noting that founder president Julius Nyerere played a huge role in promoting peaceful resolutions to conflicts.

Tanzania also provides vital stability for the region through its troop contributions to peacekeeping missions under the auspices of the United Nations, he added.

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