Remarks by President Obama and President Kikwete of Tanzania at Joint Press Conference
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
5:09 P.M. EAT
PRESIDENT KIKWETE: You Excellency, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America -- Mr. President, let me once again welcome you and the U.S. First Lady, and your entire delegation to Tanzania.
I thank you, Mr. President, for accepting my invitation to visit Tanzania. The people of Tanzania love you. (Applause.)
You have seen the outpouring of warmth. There has never been a visit by head of state to Tanzania that has attracted such big crowds like the one -- the first one of its kind. Thank you for coming.
Mr. President, Tanzania and the United States enjoy an excellent relationship. We see eye to eye on many regional and global issues. We have been receiving invaluable support in our development endeavors. The lives of the people of Tanzania are different today thanks in many ways to the support and engaging from the United States of America -- support in health care, support in education. And health care has made many people, many lives to be saved. In education, many young men and women of Tanzania had to get -- education.
Support in food security, nutrition security is increasingly building Tanzania’s capacity for self-sufficiency and food supply. And we’re already getting there with regards to rice.
Support in infrastructure development, in the road sector, in electricity, in the water sector has made many Tanzanians get these services, which otherwise they would not have been getting them. We applaud programs like the Millennium Challenge compact; PEPFAR, against HIV/AIDS and malaria. And your own brainchild, Feed the Future; Partnership for Growth; New Alliance for Food and Nutrition Security -- these have proven to be very useful in supporting the development efforts.
Mr. President, we had very fruitful discussions today. We discussed many issues of mutual interest and mutual concern. Again, I will say, President, thank you for coming. And your words of support during the official talks, and readiness to continue to support Tanzania in our development endeavors goes a long way. It was assuring us in you, and in the United States, we have a true friend indeed.
Mr. President, welcome. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you so much. Thank you. Well, thank you so much, President Kikwete, for your very kind words and for the incredible welcome that I’ve received here in Dar es Salaam. This is my first visit to Tanzania, but I feel a special connection to this country. Obviously, my family on my father’s side is from East Africa. They spent some time actually in Tanzania. And so, the love Michelle and I and the girls have felt on our arrival, I want to assure you that love is reciprocated and given back in return. So, habari zenu. (Applause.)
Now, President Kikwete was the first African leader I welcomed to the White House after I took office. I was pleased to welcome him to Washington last year for the launch of our New Alliance on Food Security. And as the President indicated, we had excellent discussions today. Our visits and work together reflect the long relationship between our countries and our shared commitment to the development and the dignity of the people of Tanzania.
My visit comes on the 50th anniversary of a key moment in our relationship -- when President Kennedy welcomed to the White House the father of your nation, President Julius Nyerere. Tanzania was one of the first countries to welcome the Peace Corps. That spirit of friendship continues. Tanzania is a close partner, as the President indicated, on almost all our major development initiatives. And this reflects our confidence in the people of Tanzania that, with the right steps, Tanzania has the potential to unlock new economic growth not only in this country but all across East Africa.
For example, Tanzanians continue to work to strengthen their democracy. Parliament, opposition groups, civil society groups, and journalists are all doing their part to advance the good governance and transparency upon which democracy and prosperity depend.
And I want to commend President Kikwete on your reform efforts to strengthen institutions, improve the delivery of basic services, and make government more responsive to the Tanzanian people. And I also want to salute you and President Shein of Zanzibar and the Tanzanian people for embarking on a vital constitutional process that will determine the future of this nation and its democracy.
President Kikwete and I agreed to keep tackling the hurdles of greater economic growth, starting with the sector where the vast majority of Tanzanians work, and that’s in the agricultural sector. As has been mentioned, our Feed the Future program has allowed us to work together to help more than 14,000 farmers here to better manage their crops and increase their yields by almost 50 percent. That means higher incomes and a ladder for families and communities to greater prosperity. And we're very proud of the work we've done with the Tanzanian government.
We discussed the importance of creating opportunities for Tanzanian youth, and I’m hopeful that young men and women here will apply for the new fellows program that I've announced this week so that we can partner with them as we seek new ways to serve, working with young people, their communities, and to help them start new companies and create new jobs.
I want to congratulate Tanzania on nearing completion of the largest Millennium Challenge compact in the world, which has benefited millions of Tanzanians with new roads and improved access to water and electricity. And Tanzania is also one of the first four countries selected for our Partnership for Growth, and its investments in key areas -- new and improved roads, reforms to the energy sector -- that can help lift people out of poverty and unlock economic growth.
And I’m also pleased that Tanzania is going to be one of the first participants in the new effort that I announced yesterday -- Power Africa -- with its goal of doubling access to electricity. (Applause.) This will mean more reliable and affordable electricity for more Tanzanians, and it's something that we want to spread all across the continent. Later today, I’ll be announcing another initiative to improve trade with and within Africa, starting here with the East African Community.
On health, we’re going to continue our efforts, which are saving lives. Here in Tanzania, we're working together; we’ve seen dramatic decreases in malaria and child deaths in part because of the support that we've been able to provide. Fewer people are being infected with HIV, more people are being treated. We’re reaching more than 1.2 million Tanzanians with care and support through PEPFAR, including more than 500,000 vulnerable children and orphans. So we’re going to keep up that fight.
Regionally, I thanked President Kikwete for Tanzania’s contribution to security, including its peacekeepers in Darfur and the Congo. On the Congo, we agreed that all parties need to implement their commitments under the Framework for Peace, that armed groups need to lay down their arms, and human rights abusers need to be held accountable. And I very much want to commend President Kikwete as well for the leadership role that he's played in the Southern African Development Community on the issue of Zimbabwe. (Applause.) We agree that the threats and intimidation of citizens are unacceptable and must stop, and that further reforms are needed to create the conditions for free, fair, and credible elections that will put Zimbabwe on a path of success and prosperity.
And finally, we discussed an issue that’s inseparable from Africa’s identity and prosperity -- and that’s its wildlife. Tourists from around the world, including the United States, come here -- especially to Tanzania -- to experience its natural beauty and its national parks, and that’s obviously an important part of the economy of this country. But poaching and trafficking is threatening Africa’s wildlife, so today I issued a new executive order to better organize U.S. government efforts in this fight so that we can cooperate further with the Tanzanian government and others. And this includes additional millions of dollars to help countries across the region build their capacity to meet this challenge, because the entire world has a stake in making sure that we preserve Africa's beauty for future generations.
So, again, Mr. President, thank you so much for your leadership and for your commitment to the partnership between our two nations. We've covered a lot of ground today. One last point I need to make, and that is the President and I are both basketball fans. We did not discuss Hasheem Thabeet, who plays in the NBA, but maybe next time we'll have a chance to talk about that. (Laughter and applause.) So, asante. (Applause.) Asante sana.
Q Your Excellencies, my name is Peter Ambilikile from Jamboree Newspaper. My question is for both of you, starting with President Obama. President Obama, are you satisfied with the aid that your country provides to Tanzania, especially the MCC? Second question goes to President Kikwete. Do you believe that U.S.A. is doing enough to support our country, Tanzania? That’s all, thanks.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, not only do I think that what we're doing is important, but we have proof that U.S. assistance is making a difference. Because of our programs, you've reduced incidents of malaria. Because of our programs, you've reduced child and infant mortality. Because of our programs, there are roads that are being built here; farmers are seeing crops with better yields and are better able to get them to market because of new roads.
The MCC I think has been so successful here in Tanzania that phase one is near completion, and I know that Tanzania is going to be eligible for applying for phase two. And when it comes to Power Africa, the new program that I'm announcing, I think there's enormous potential here in Tanzania to start getting electricity out into villages in rural areas, more reliable service that can then power manufacturing, power new businesses which creates more jobs, creates more demand. And we can do it using clean energy and not just some of the traditional sources.
Now, what I would say is -- and I've said this throughout Africa -- we are looking at a new model that’s based not just on aid and assistance, but on trade and partnership. And increasingly, what we want to do is use whatever monies that we're providing to build capacity. So we don’t want to just provide the medicine, we want to help build the health infrastructures that allow Tanzanians to improve their overall health systems.
We don’t want to just provide food, we want to increase food self-sufficiency. When it comes to power, we're not just building power plants ourselves -- we're working with the various governments that are involved to think about what are the laws and regulations that are required to sustain it, and how do we leverage the private sector to put more money in. So we're coming up with $7, $8 billion of U.S. government money on our Power Africa program but we're also already obtaining about $9 billion worth of commitments from the private sector.
So ultimately, the goal here is for Africa to build Africa for Africans. And our job is to be a partner in that process, and Tanzania has been one of our best partners.
PRESIDENT KIKWETE: I think the issue of satisfied with MCC should have been asked me. MCC has been a great assistance from the United States government to the people of Tanzania. There are three sectors here.
There is the road sector. And a good thing about the MCC is that we decide on the areas or the sectors that we need assistance. But even we decide on where. For example, in the case of roads, there are roads that we've talked to many donors who are not ready to support us. But when you said there is going to be support on roads, I said, let's try these roads. Let's see what the Americans are going to say. The Americans said, fine -- if you think you need these roads, fine, we'll give you the money.
Those, Tanzanians, fellow Tanzanians know Namtumbo, Songea, Binga, Tunduma, Sumbawanga, Tanga, Horo Horo -- the roads in Pemba. But we chose those roads, because these roads are actually in our breadbasket areas. This is where we get the corn -- Ruvuma, Rukwa, Mbeya. We decided -- we chose the U.S. to assist us to increase water supply to Dar es Salaam. It was our decision. The project is now being implemented. With electricity, we said one of our biggest problems is access to electricity for people in the rural areas. The U.S. said, fine. We have grid in 10 regions of Tanzania. Coverage of electricity has increased from 10 percent to 21 percent. It's a phenomenal increase.
So I want to underscore the fact that I'm satisfied with the support from MCC. Is the U.S. doing enough? The U.S. has done a lot. But if I say they have done enough, then the President will not listen to my new requests. (Laughter.) But so far, so good. (Laughter.)
Death from malaria has declined by over 50 percent. Infant mortality rates have declined. HIV infections have declined. Through the PMTCT, Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission, more children born by HIV-infected mothers are born free of the disease.
The U.S. has supported us with over 2 million books. And today, I asked the President we want another 2 million. He says, you talk to -- and I have seen from their faces that they are in agreement with the President. (Laughter.) So that when it comes to science and mathematics books, we'll have every Tanzanian child have a book of his or her own, instead of the ratios they are talking today, 5 to 1 -- now 3 to 1. So the list is endless. We have a lot of support. We are very appreciative, very thankful. It has really helped change the lives of our people. But if they can do more, please.
Q Mr. President, President Kikwete, thank you very much. Mr. President, these scenes in Egypt suggest that Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government have lost the support of the Egyptian people. When we saw similar protesting against Mubarak, you called on Mubarak to step down. By all accounts, these protests are even bigger. So my question is, is it time for Morsi to go? And does any of this cause you to reconsider the hundreds of millions of dollars -- even billions of dollars -- in aid the United States gives Morsi’s government?
And, President Kikwete, if I can ask you -- actually both of you -- to comment on the significance of President Obama’s trip here to Africa and the fact that tomorrow we will see in what I believe is a first of two U.S. Presidents, President Bush and President Obama together in a public appearance here in Tanzania.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Obviously, we’re all concerned about what’s happening in Egypt, and we’ve been monitoring it very closely. Our commitment to Egypt has never been around any particular individual or party. Our commitment has been to a process. And when I took a position that it was time for Egypt to transition, it was based on the fact that Egypt had not had a democratic government for decades, if ever. And that’s what the people were calling for.
They went through an election process that, by all accounts, were legitimate. And Mr. Morsi was elected. And the U.S. government’s attitude has been we would deal with a democratically elected government. What we’ve also said is that democracy is not just about elections, it’s also about how are you working with an opposition; how do you treat dissenting voices; how do you treat minority groups. And what is clear right now is that although Mr. Morsi was elected democratically, there’s more work to be done to create the conditions in which everybody feels that their voices are heard, and that the government is responsive and truly representative.
And so what we’ve encouraged the government to do is to reach out to the opposition and work through these issues in a political process. It’s not the U.S.’s job to determine what that process is. But what we have said is, go through processes that are legitimate and observe rule of law.
Now, obviously, we’ve been watching these big protests. Our number-one priority has been making sure that our embassies and consulates are protected. Number two, what we’ve consistently insisted on is that all parties involved -- whether it’s members of Mr. Morsi’s party or the opposition -- that they remain peaceful. And although we have not seen the kind of violence that many had feared so far, the potential remains there, and everybody has to show restraint.
I should add, by the way, we have seen many reports of women being assaulted in these protests. And for those who are participating in these protests or marches, assaulting women does not qualify as peaceful protests.
So we’re going to continue to work with all parties inside of Egypt to try to channel this through legal, legitimate processes. But I do think that if the situation is going to resolve itself for the benefit of Egypt over the long term, then all the parties there have to step back from maximalist positions. Democracies don’t work when everybody says it’s the other person’s fault and I want 100 percent of what I want.
And the good thing about the United States and other mature democracies is you work through processes that force compromise, and those get institutionalized. But, look, we’ve had 200-plus years of practice at it. This is still new in Egypt. And so they’re going to have to work through these things. The key is making sure that they don’t work through them in a violent fashion. But our position has always been it’s not our job to choose who Egypt’s leaders are. We do want to make sure that all the voices are heard and is done in a peaceful way.
I know you directed the question to President Kikwete, but my appearance with President Bush tomorrow -- and I know the First Lady is going to be seeing Laura Bush -- I think this is just another opportunity for me to reiterate what I said in South Africa yesterday when we were at an HIV/AIDS clinic that has saved lives because of the U.S. PEPFAR program that President Bush started. I think this is one of his crowning achievements.
Because of the commitment of the Bush administration and the American people, millions of people’s lives have been saved. Antiretroviral drugs have been made available to people who didn’t have them before, and they, even if they were infected with the disease, could look forward to a decent life. Children have been able to avoid infection because of that work. And we've continued that work, and we are going to continue that work.
One thing I do think is worth mentioning is that there's been some suggestion that somehow we've reduced our commitment there. The fact of the matter is, is that we are serving four times the number of people today than we were when PEPFAR first began. But because we've gotten better at it and more efficient at it, we're doing it at reduced costs, and then we're not taking that money out of global health; what we're doing is we're putting it back into things like tuberculosis and malaria alleviation, which is making sure that more people's lives are saved because HIV/AIDS is not the only disease that is affecting people here in Africa. And you have public health crises in some of these other areas as well.
But this indicates how timely the PEPFAR program was. And the bipartisan support that it has received has been extraordinary, and President Bush deserves enormous credit for that. And so, I'm looking forward to being able, on African soil, to once again thank him on behalf of the American people for showing how American generosity and foresight could end up making a real difference in people's lives.
Q And the U.S. aid to Egypt?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, Jonathan, I have to say that your numbers on U.S. aid to Egypt were a little bit imprecise. We have some regular assistance that we provide Egypt. We have some dollars that have been held up and have to be approved by Congress. But the way we make decisions about assistance to Egypt is based on are they in fact following rule of law and democratic procedures. And we don’t make those decisions just by counting the number of heads in a protest march, but we do make decisions based on whether or not a government is listening to the opposition, maintaining a free press, maintaining freedom of assembly, not using violence or intimidation, conducting fair and free elections. And those are the kinds of things that we're examining, and we press the Egyptian government very hard on those issues.
PRESIDENT KIKWETE: Is President Obama's visit significant? Very significant. Why am I saying so? Africa needs the United States. The United States needs Africa. And the only way you can build this relationship is through exchange of visits, and visits at the highest level speaks volumes about doing that.
So I would say the visit of President Obama to Africa consolidates existing relations, but also advances them to greater heights for the mutual benefits of our two countries and our two peoples.
President Bush and Madam Laura Bush are visiting Tanzania. The George Bush Foundation has programs supporting African first ladies in the work that they do in their respective countries, particularly supporting women groups and supporting girls with regards to education and empowerment.
Were we excited? We have the President and the former President in Tanzania at the same time. It's a blessing to this country.
Q My question to President Obama -- Mr. President, there has been no peace in Congo for almost 20 years now. As a powerful nation in the world and a permanent member of the Security Council with a lot of influence to major players of the Congo conflict, how is the U.S. going to assist the DRC and Great Lakes to reach a permanent peace? Thank you.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, the people of Congo need a chance. They need a fair chance to live their lives, raise their families. And they haven't had that opportunity because of constant conflict and war for way too many years. And of course, the tragedy is compounded by the fact that Congo is so rich in natural resources and potential, but because of this constant conflict and instability, the people of Congo haven't benefitted from that.
I want to congratulate, again, President Kikwete and others who have helped to shape a peace framework. Because one of the things that I've said throughout this trip is, the United States doesn’t seek to impose solutions on Africa. We want to work with Africans to find solutions to some of these ongoing security and regional problems.
And so, the fact that you now have a peace framework that the various parties have signed onto is critical. But it can't just be a piece of paper; there has to be follow-through. And so, one of the things that I discussed with President Kikwete is how we can encourage all the parties concerned to follow through on commitments that they've made in order to bring about a lasting solution inside of Congo. That means, for example, that President Kabila inside of Congo, he has to do more and better when it comes to dealing with the DRC's capacity on security issues and delivery of services. And that’s very important, because if there's a continuing vacuum there, then that vacuum sometimes gets filled by actors that don’t have the best interests of Congo at heart. And we're prepared to work the United Nations and regional organizations and others to help him build capacity.
The countries surrounding the Congo, they've got to make commitments to stop funding armed groups that are encroaching on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Congo. And they've signed onto a piece of paper now, now the question is do they follow through.
And so, we're prepared to work with anybody to try to make this happen. Ultimately, though, the countries involved have to recognize it is in their self-interest to do so. We can't force a solution onto the region. The peoples of the region have to stand up and say that’s enough; it's time to move forward in a different way. And, by the way, that means holding those who've committed gross human rights abuses accountable for what they've done.
But there's an opportunity for peace here. And the countries surrounding the Congo should recognize that if the Congo stabilizes, that will improve the prospects for their growth and their prosperity, because right now, it's as if you have a millstone around your neck. If you have one of the biggest countries in terms of geography in all of Africa with all these natural resources, but it's constantly a problem as opposed to being part of the solution, everybody suffers.
Tanzania should be doing more trade with the DRC. Rwanda should be doing more trade and commerce with the DRC. One of the things we're talking about it how do we get more inter-Africa trade, because if countries like Tanzania are going to improve their economic position in the globe, the first thing they have to do is to make sure they can trade with each other more effectively.
Right now, in Africa -- this is true not just in Tanzania, but in Kenya and Uganda and other places -- it's easier to send flowers or coffee to Europe than it is to send it across the way. And that means that fewer businesses are getting started and fewer jobs are being created.
So we want to work with the existing international structures like the United Nations, and we're supportive of the brigade that’s been shaped and in which Tanzania is making a contribution. But ultimately, it's going to be the African countries themselves that have to follow up on the commitments that they've already made.
Q President Obama, President Kikwete, thank you very much. President Obama, the first question goes to you, and I want to get your reaction to a breaking news alert that just came in a few minutes ago. According to Reuters, a senior Russian security official says that you and President Putin have asked the FBI and FSB to seek a solution on Snowden, so can you confirm that report?
Also, the latest leaks by Edward Snowden suggest the United States have been monitoring the phone and email records of its allies in the EU. So is the United States spying on its European allies? Also, France and other countries are demanding an explanation with France saying that free trade talks could be threatened. So how can you reassure your allies to make sure that free trade talks aren't threatened and that your relations abroad are not threatened? And what will the federal response be to the 19 firefighters who were killed in Arizona? Thank you.
And to President Kikwete, did you discuss with President Obama the Tanzanian diplomat who was stationed in Washington, D.C. and fined a million dollars for holding a woman against her will as a domestic servant? Is this person still an advisor to you, and does this issue in any way undercut your ability to fight human trafficking in your great country? Thank you, to both of you.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I can confirm -- because I said so I think at the beginning of this trip in one of the first questions that was asked -- that we have gone through regular law enforcement channels in enforcing the extradition request that we've made with respect to Mr. Snowden. And that’s been true with all the countries that have been involved, including Russia. And so, there have been high-level discussions with the Russians about trying to find a solution to the problem.
We don't have an extradition treaty with Russia. On the other hand, Mr. Snowden, we understand, has traveled there without a valid passport, without legal papers. And we are hopeful that the Russian government makes decisions based on the normal procedures regarding international travel and the normal interactions that law enforcement have. So I can confirm that.
With respect to the latest article that in part I gather is prompted by Mr. Snowden's leaks, we're still evaluating the article because the problem is that these things come out in dribs and drabs. We don't know necessarily what programs they're referring to, we don’t know how they're sourced. And so, what I've said is, to my team, take a look at this article, figure out what they may or may not be talking about, and then what we'll do is we'll communicate to our allies appropriately.
But I'll make some general points. So I'm not going to comment on any particular allegation, but I'll make a couple of general points. Number one, the Europeans are some of the closest allies that we have in the world. And we work with them on everything, and we share intelligence constantly. And our primary concerns are the various security threats that may have an impact on both our countries.
The initial two programs that were of concern as a consequence of the Snowden leak had to do with a very particular issue, and that is, were we going around snooping and reading people's emails and listening to people's phone calls, whether that was in the United States or in Europe. And I responded to that when I was in Europe, in Germany, explaining that one program had to do with telephone numbers that were exchanged without content. The other was very narrowly tailored to deal with threats like terrorism, proliferation -- and that all of this was done legally and under the supervision of the FISA Court. So that's one set of issues.
Now, there's a second set of issues that this article seems to be raising, and that is how our intelligence services operate generally around the world. And I think we should stipulate that every intelligence service -- not just ours, but every European intelligence service, every Asian intelligence service, wherever there's an intelligence service -- here's one thing that they're going to be doing: they're going to be trying to understand the world better and what's going on in world capitals around the world from sources that aren't available through the New York Times or NBC News; that they are seeking additional insight beyond what's available through open sources.
And if that weren't the case, then there would be no use for an intelligence service. And I guarantee you that in European capitals, there are people who are interested in, if not what I had for breakfast, at least what my talking points might be should I end up meeting with their leaders. That's how intelligence services operate.
So I don't know what is precisely in this article. I've asked my team and the NSA to evaluate everything that's being claimed. When we have an answer, we will make sure to provide all the information that our allies want and what exactly the allegations have been.
But I can -- here's one last thing I'll say. I'm the end user of this kind of intelligence. And if I want to know what Chancellor Merkel is thinking, I will call Chancellor Merkel. If I want to know what President Hollande is thinking on a particular issue, I'll call President Hollande. If I want to know what David Cameron is thinking, I'll call David Cameron. Ultimately, we work so closely together that there's almost no information that's not shared between our various countries.
But I do think it's important for everybody analytically to separate this issue, which is how our intelligence service is gathering information about the world versus the particular programs that were initially the cause of this controversy, which I was responding to when I was in Germany.
Q And the wildfires?
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, thank you. See, this is what happens when I've got too many questions. Obviously, the news is heartbreaking. And our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the brave firefighters who are out there.
This is one more reminder of the fact that our first responders, they put their lives on the line every single day. And every time we have a community in crisis, a disaster strikes, we've got people in need -- firefighters, law enforcement officers, they run towards the danger. And so we are heartbroken about what happened. Obviously, we're prepared to provide any support we can in investigating exactly how this took place.
I think we're going to have to ask ourselves a set of broader questions about how we're handling increasingly deadly and difficult firefights. Wildfires have been continually escalating at higher and higher cost, and putting more and more pressure not only the federal fire services, but also on state and local fire services. And we're going to have to think about what more we can do on that front. But for now, I think what we're most concerned about is how painful these losses are.
PRESIDENT KIKWETE: The question that was directed to me -- yes, I am aware of a situation in Washington that involved one of our diplomats who later we recalled. This incident involves a young sister of the wife of this diplomat. They took her with them to help her get education and support -- make it in life. And then I think there was a conflict within the family, and then this young lady accused the brother-in-law and the sister of using her for cheap labor.
The court decided on a one million fine, an amount which, for a Tanzanian, there is no way that he can afford to pay. See, even the President here -- the President -- when I retire, my retirement benefits cannot pay that, because we get far less. Then, I think there was reconsideration for this gentleman to pay $175,000, which, as far as I know, has already been paid. So that matter has been put to rest.
5:55 P.M. EAT