Presidents Obama and George W. Bush are in Tanzania on Tuesday to commemorate a terrorist bombing 15 years ago and to discuss the progress of Bush’s initiative to reduce HIV and AIDS in Africa.
The two American presidents have only rarely made joint appearances, but plan to come together to lay a wreath at the US Embassy to commemorate the bombing that took place August 7, 1998.
In the terrorist attack, truck bombs were detonated at US diplomatic headquarters in Tanzania and Kenya. The attacks left hundreds dead and brought the world’s attention to Osama bin Laden as his radical Islamist movement made its first major strike against the US.
The attack was said to embolden bin Laden, who would coordinate an attack on American soil a little more than three years later.
Under President Obama, efforts to fight terrorism have ramped up considerably in sub-Saharan Africa. In his first year in office, Obama targeted Somalia’s al-Shabab militia, which has strong ties to al-Qaida.
For Bush and Obama, the Tanzania appearance will also be a chance to update American efforts to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS on the continent. Obama said he plans to thank Bush for the program, which he calls the “crowning achievement” of the Republican’s tenure.
Obama was in Tanzania to cap off his trip to Africa, which also saw him visit with family of ailing South African leader Nelson Mandela. Bush, who has remained active in African issues after leaving office, was already planning to be in Tanzania for a conference on African women that his institute has sponsored.
In Tanzania, Obama has planned talks and a press conference with President Jakaya Kikwete. He also has scheduled a visit to the Ubungo power plant. During the trip Obama announced a $7 billion initiative to build up electrical power networks in Africa.