The President's News Conference With President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
President Kikwete. Mr. President, welcome. I stand before you with a deep sense of gratitude and satisfaction to once again welcome you, Mr. President, and your entire delegation to our dear country, Tanzania. The outpouring of warmth and affection from the people of Tanzania that you have witnessed since your arrival is a genuine reflection of what we feel towards you and towards the American people.
Welcome, Your Excellency, and your great wife Madam Laura Bush, as enduring partners for our empowerment as we struggle to pull ourselves to prosperity and back from backwardness and undevelopment, infested by poverty, disease, and deprivation of basic social and economic services. We welcome you, Mr. President, as a supportive and understanding partner as we take the necessary measures to promote democracy, human rights, and good governance. You are a dependable partner, indeed, in the pursuit of ensuring national, as well as regional, peace and stability in the African Continent.
Mr. President, you have shown great compassion for Africa and its people. You have personally reached out using different initiatives, instruments, and moral leadership to support Africa's efforts to improve governance, to fight poverty, to seek shared prosperity, to resolve conflict, to improve security, and jointly to fight the scourge of terrorism. Tanzania has been and is committed and poised to continue being an important partner and beneficiary of your empathy and support towards the African peoples.
Mr. President, we thank you for your deep understanding and empathy for the challenges we face on the African Continent. And we truly appreciate what you have done to support us where we needed support for the sake of welfare and dignity of our people.
Ten days ago in Washington, DC, at the 56th National Prayer Breakfast, the keynote speaker and a close friend of Africa, Ward Brehm, Chairman of African Development Foundation, spoke eloquently of the fourfold increase in various forms of support to Africa under your administration. There was immediately an extended applause and standing ovation from the 4,000 people in the audience from the 155 countries. Today I want you to know that we in Tanzania, who have benefited and are continuing to benefit from your commitment to Africa, join in that thunderous applause and standing ovation.
President Bush. Thank you, sir.
President Kikwete. Mr. President, today, there are thousands of women and children who have—would have died from malaria that are alive in Tanzania and all over the country thanks to your malaria support program. I can give the example of Zanzibar. In 2004 in the outpatient clinic, 500,000 malaria patients were treated; in 2007, only 10,000. In 2004 in Zanzibar, 40 percent of the patients tested positive for malaria; in 2007, only 5 percent. When the blood slide is taken, 35 percent tested positive for malaria in 2004; in 2007, only 1 percent.
I can go on and on and say and mention examples, but this is only a very brief press briefing. Today, there are thousands of children who have managed to avoid joining the already long list of orphans and who continue to enjoy the love, guidance, and support of their parents who are alive because of the AIDS care and treatment they get with the support of PEPFAR initiative. Mr. President, thank you. Today, as a result of PEPFAR, parents with AIDS are able to take care of their children.
And here today we have signed the Millennium Challenge compact, the largest ever. This funding will go a long way towards addressing some of our critical infrastructure challenges, which have for a long time been an obstacle to our growth and development. We very much thank you, Mr. President. We thank your esteemed Government for agreeing with us to give the infrastructure sector the priority it deserves.
Your decision that this compact should be signed here in Dar es Salaam today speaks volumes about how deep you have Tanzania in your heart. We are also grateful to the United States Congress for accepting your administration's request to fund the Tanzanian compact package. We also thank the MCC Board and the very able leadership of Secretary Rice. We appreciate the tremendous efforts of Ambassador Danilovich and his staff in making this day possible.
Let me end by saying that different people may have different views about you and your administration and your legacy, but we in Tanzania, if we are to speak for ourselves and for Africa, we know for sure that you, Mr. President, and your administration have been good friends of our country and have been good friends of Africa.
I know you leave office in about 12 months' time. Rest assured that you will be remembered for many generations to come for the good things you have done for Tanzania and the good things you have done for Africa. Your legacy will be that of saving hundreds of thousands of mothers' and children's lives from malaria, preventing new HIV infections and giving hope to those infected through care and treatment, and helping millions of young men and women get education. Last but not least, the legacy of assisting African nations and peoples build capacity for their own growth and development.
And today with the signing of the MCA compact, you are making it possible for the people of Tanzania to chart a brighter future underpinned by growth, opportunity, and democracy. We owe it to you and, indeed, to the American people that this compact meet its objectives and becomes a source of pride and satisfaction for our two governments and peoples.
We owe it to you, Mr. President, and indeed, to our people, that in governing this dear country of ours, we act in a manner that will justify this tremendous trust and confidence you have shown in us. This is my promise. I thank you, and welcome.
President Bush. Thank you, sir. Thanks for your very generous comments. Vipi mambo?
President Kikwete. Poa![Laughter]
President Bush. For the uneducated, that's Swahili for, "Howdy, you all." [Laughter]
Mr. President, I thank you for your invitation. It's a real pleasure to set foot in your beautiful country. Laura and I are honored that you invited us, and we're so grateful for the warm welcome we received last night. It was very moving, for those of us racing through the streets of Dar es Salaam, to see thousands of people there greeting us. And I really do want to extend my thanks.
Mr. President, I stand next to you advocating to our people strong initiatives on behalf of the people of Tanzania, because you're a strong leader. I'll just put it bluntly: America doesn't want to spend money on people who steal the money from the people. [Laughter] We like dealing with honest people and compassionate people. We want our money to go to help the human condition and to lift human lives. We act not out of guilt, but out of compassion, Mr. President. And that's why we're in your beautiful country. I also appreciate the fact that you're—have been elected the Chairman of the African Union; it speaks to your leadership.
We are partners in democracy. We believe that governments ought to respond to the people. We're also partners in fighting disease, extending opportunity, and working for peace. Mr. President, I mentioned I was proud to sign, along with the President, the largest Millennium Challenge Account in the history of the United States here in Tanzania. It will provide nearly $700 million over 5 years to improve Tanzania's transportation network, secure, reliable supplies of energy, and expand access to clean and safe water.
My hope is that such an initiative will be part of a effort to transform parts of this country to become more hopeful places, Mr. President. We join you in this because of your Government and your personal commitment to fight corruption, to invest in the education and health of your people, and to accept and expand marketplace economics. Those are the conditions of the Millennium Challenge Account. Oh, in the past, countries would give aid and hope for the best. America believes that people can achieve high standards, and therefore, our support to you is based upon our belief and your performance when it comes to achieving high standards.
The United States and Tanzania are working together to fight disease. As the President mentioned—that our efforts are really focused on HIV/AIDS and malaria. Since I've been the President, the number of antiretrovirals extended to people on the continent of Africa have grown from 50,000 to over 1.2 million people. And I tell people in America, that's great, that's good. We've measured it, and it's successful. But it's only a start, Mr. President.
And therefore, I've gone to our Congress to get them to double the amount of HIV/ AIDS money for the continent of Africa. The plan we put in place, the strategy we put in place is working. And Congress needs to make sure that this HIV/AIDS plan, PEPFAR, gets reauthorized for a 5year period of time. We don't want people guessing on the continent of Africa whether or not the generosity of the American people will continue.
I appreciate very much your focus on malaria as well. It breaks my heart to know that little children are dying needlessly because of a mosquito bite. I also fully understand, like you do, Mr. President, that this is a soluble problem. It takes some money, but it also takes organization. It takes the willingness to distribute nets and insecticides and education to the people, and that's what you're doing.
I appreciate the fact that you brought up the example of Zanzibar. It is an example for all on the continent of Africa of what can happen. I mean, this is a place that had been sorely affected by malaria. Today, as Mr. President pointed out, the number of infections have declined dramatically, and that ought to make the people of Tanzania feel good. It also ought to make the American people feel good, to know that their taxpayers' dollars are going to save human lives. And it's in our interests, it's in our moral interest that we continue to do so.
And so, Mr. President, we're so proud of the efforts that you and your Government and the people at the grassroots level have made to distribute nets and insecticides, all in the aim of answering a universal call to protect the most vulnerable amongst us. And we're proud to be your partner.
We also talked about international affairs. I appreciate the President's strong advice. One reason he was elected to be the head of the AU is, he knows what he's talking about. Therefore, it's important for me to listen to him, which I have done. [Laughter]
We talked about Zimbabwe. There's no doubt the people of Zimbabwe deserve a Government that serves their interests and recognizes their basic human rights and holds free and fair elections. That's in the interest of the people of Zimbabwe. It happens to be in the interest of the world as well.
We discussed the genocide in Darfur, and America provides a lot of food aid to the people in Darfur. We're trying to help them. But the truth of the matter is, there are obstacles to peace in Darfur. And that is one of the reasons we've imposed tough sanctions, real, meaningful sanctions against those who are stopping progress toward alleviating the human suffering in Darfur.
I do want to appreciate the fact—to express my appreciation, Mr. President, that you've committed a battalion of Tanzanian troops to go to Darfur. And we're proud to have worked with you to help them train up for the mission.
So we've had a great visit so far, but, like, this is just the beginning of the visit. And I'm looking forward to having dinner with you tonight, looking forward to traveling to parts of your country to see firsthand the great compassionate works that are taking place. And again, I want to thank you for your hospitality. You're a good man, Mr. President, and I'm proud to call you friend. [Laughter]
Moderator. I thank His Excellencies. Thank you. Thank you very much for those excellent statements. And now with your permission, we will invite questions from the media. As we said, it will be two questions from both sides, and I will start with the Tanzanian side. And I will call on— [inaudible]—to ask the first question. Mr.— [inaudible]—please.
President Bush. You better use the mike—[inaudible]. I'm a little old these days. [Laughter] I'm not hearing very well.
U.S. Role in Africa/President's Visit to Africa
Q. My question goes to you, Mr. President. Your visit has come rather late, during the end of your Presidency. And I would like to know, why is it Tanzania and Africa in general so important now?
President Bush. Yes. Thanks, yes. Africa has actually been important from the start of my administration. I'll never forget having a conversation with then my—my then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. It was early on in the administration, and we were talking about priorities and matters of emphasis.
And she asked me whether or not I really cared about Africa, and my answer to her then is the same answer I will give to you now: Absolutely. It's in our national interests that America help deal with hopelessness, and it's our moral interests that we help brothers and sisters who hurt. It's been the policy of the Bush administration since day one. That's why, in the first 4 years of my administration, I went to Congress, and I asked them to double foreign aid to Africa. And then, as I began the second half of my administration, I asked them to double it again. Why? Because it's in our interests to work on issues such as malaria and AIDS.
It also appalled me very on, sir, in my administration to realize that an entire generation of people could be lost to HIV/ AIDS and that those of us who were comfortable weren't doing much about it. I'm a man who believes in certain principles, and I refuse to yield from those principles. And one such principle is that to whom much is given, much is required. And a lot has been given to the United States of America. We're a blessed nation. And therefore, I felt all along it was incumbent upon us to help deal with this pandemic that was—could have literally wiped out an entire generation of Africans and left thousands and thousands of boys and girls orphaned.
And so this has been a priority of mine. Why finally getting to Tanzania? I don't have many excuses, except I've been a pretty busy guy. [Laughter] And secondly, it seems like a fortuitous time to come. After all, the results of our efforts are becoming more and more tangible, and there's no better place to come than a place where people achieve results.
Now, there's still a lot of conflict here on this continent; I understand that. I was asked yesterday, "Well, how come you're not going to the places of conflict?" Well, one reason you go to places of success is to show people what's possible. I am going tomorrow [Tuesday] * to a place that had been in serious conflict, however, and that's Rwanda. And one of the reasons I'm going there is to show that after this horrible situation that occurred, there's life and there's hope and there's progress. And one way to make sure that situations like that don't occur, however, is to deal with the human condition. And that's what this trip is all about. It's heralding good leadership, it's heralding honest government, and it's focusing our help on local folks' efforts to deal with malaria and AIDS. And so thanks for the question.
Q. Jennifer Loven of Associated Press.
President Bush. Yes, Jennifer.
President Bush. Oops, that's not going to work. Okay, well, you block everybody's view then. [Laughter]
Q. Sorry. It's kind of awkward. Thank you.
President Bush. You're handling it well, though.
President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief/Senator Barack Obama
Q. I'm trying. On PEPFAR——
President Bush. Yes.
Q. ——there are many Democrats, as well as some medical experts, who say that the abstinence provision—spending such a chunk of the money on abstinence programs is too inflexible and should be dropped. Would you consider doing that?
And then to President Kikwete, I'd like to ask you about American politics. There seems to be a lot of excitement here in Africa and in your country about Barack Obama. And I wonder what you think it says about America, that we might elect a black President with roots in Africa?
President Bush. It seemed like there was a lot of excitement for me—wait a minute. [Laughter] Maybe I—maybe you missed it.
Anyway, look, my attitude toward Congress is, look, see what works. PEPFAR is working. It is a balanced program. It is an ABC program: abstinence, be faithful, and condoms. It's a program that's been proven effective. And I understand there's voices on both ends of the political spectrum trying to alter the program. I would ask Congress to listen to leaders on the continent of Africa, find—analyze what works, stop the squabbling, and get the program reauthorized. One of the worst things that can happen is, there's uncertainty. You got a lot of faith-based providers and community organizers here wondering whether or not America will keep its commitment.
And so I—you know, I can understand debates, and those are fine. But they need to end the debates, adopt a reasonable policy—I happen to think the current policy is reasonable; after all, it's working—and get it done.
You want to answer the American political—[laughter]. See, she didn't ask me it because she knew I wouldn't answer the question. [Laughter]
President Kikwete. Well, I don't think I can venture into that territory either. Of course, people talk with excitement of Obama. Well, our excitement is that President Bush is at the end of his term and the U.S. is going to get a new President. Whoever that one is, for us, the most important thing is, let him be as good friend of Africa as President Bush has been.
President Bush. Thank you. Yes.
Moderator. We will now take the second and final question from the Tanzanian press.
President Kikwete. Of course, if I can— maybe let me just say about PEPFAR, let me just make an appeal: Let PEPFAR continue. This is a passionate appeal from us. It has been quite useful, as I was saying in my speech. There would have been so many orphans to date had it not been for PEPFAR, the care and treatment—so many parents now who have been infected can live. And some of them can live as many years as possible, as long as they adhere to the ABCs of the person infected with HIV living on ARVs.
So can you imagine if this program is discontinued or disrupted? There would be so many people who will lose hope, and certainly, there will be death. You create more orphans. My passionate appeal is for PEPFAR to continue. Through PEPFAR, you know, we did nationwide testing. In 6 months, we have been able to have 3.4 million people tested, and through PEPFAR, we got 2 million test kits. Had it not been for PEPFAR, we would have done less than that. So it's for us—really, for PEPFAR not to continue, well, it's a recipe for disaster for us. That's what I can say.
President Bush. Yes. Thank you.
Q. Thank you, Mr. President.
Moderator. A final question from the Tanzanian side, and I would want to recognize Richard from the Citizen.
U.S. Foreign Policy in Africa
Q. Thank you. President George Bush, you are here with President Kikwete, who was recently elected as the head of African Union. Can you promise the people of Africa—how will you support President Kikwete next 12 months to make sure that the long-end crisis in Darfur, Somalia, and the recent tribal clashes in Kenya are solved effectively?
President Bush. Well, thank you. We have been actively engaged in diplomatic efforts on the continent of Africa for a long period of time and very engaged since I've been the President. You might remember, Liberia was an issue early on in my Presidency. We engaged both diplomatically and, to a certain extent, militarily, in that I sent U.S. marines off the USS Iwo Jima onto—into Liberia to help stabilize the situation. As a matter of fact, I'm going to Liberia as my last stop on this very important trip to support the President, the first elected woman President on the continent of Africa, and to remind her that the U.S.'s help will be constant and enduring.
And so step one, you can be assured that we're interested in the affairs of Africa. All you have to do is look at the—at what we've done in this administration.
Secondly, I've always believed that we ought to support African leaders and not impose our views on African leaders. I mean, there's a certain amount of trust that goes with good foreign policy, and we trust your President to make the right decisions to help resolve some of these conflicts, and we'll be active in the process.
So you mentioned Kenya. As a matter of fact, we spent a fair amount of time dealing with Kenya. The President informed me about his discussions with Kofi Annan, and we support the Annan missions very strongly. And to that end, our Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, will be going to Kenya tomorrow. And it's just— I find it interesting—I think you ought to find it illustrative—that prior to her trip, she and I spent time discussing a mutual strategy with the President: How best can we help the process? Not what we should do to dictate to the process, but what can America do to help the process move along?
And so our position—and by the way, when it comes to AU efforts in areas where it requires—which requires peacekeepers, we've been very strong about helping to train and transport or arrange transportation for peacekeepers into troubled areas. And so our record speaks for itself, and it—the way we've conducted our foreign policy with Africa is, one, it's been a priority, and two, as I say, we come to the continent not out of guilt but out of compassion. And we come to the continent with confidence that there are leaders here who are very capable of charting the way forward to peaceful resolution of conflicts.
Q. Toby Zakaria [Tabassum Zakaria] of Reuters, please.
President Bush. It's the old reporter shuffle here.
Q. Mr. President, do you support Kosovo declaring independence from Serbia? And would the United States recognize it as an independent state?
And, Mr. President, as head of the African Union, how do you get more peacekeepers into Darfur?
President Bush. Well, first, on Kosovo, our position is that its status must be resolved in order for the Balkans to be stable. Secondly, we have strongly supported the Ahtisaari plan. Thirdly, we are heartened by the fact that the Kosovo Government has clearly proclaimed its willingness and its desire to support Serbian rights in Kosovo. We also believe it's in Serbia's interests to be aligned with Europe, and the Serbian people can know that they have a friend in America. Finally, the United States will continue to work with our allies to do the very best we can to make sure there's no violence. And so those are the principles going into the Kosovo issue.
Q. But will the United States recognize it?
President Bush. I suggest you study the Ahtisaari plan. Not to be, like, the, you know, grumpy guy.
President Kikwete. Well, how to get— how do we get more peacekeepers into Darfur? Of course, what has been delaying getting more peacekeepers has been the lack of understanding between the U.N. and the Government of Sudan on the status of forces agreement. Now that one has been signed, I think it has cleared the way. There are many volunteers, and as Chair of the African Union, we certainly seek out more and more volunteers as they are needed. We use our good offices to see more and more African countries contribute. We have volunteered to contribute one battalion. If there is need for another one, we will certainly do that.
NOTE: The President's news conference began at 10:29 a.m. at the State House. In his remarks, he referred to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia; former Secretary-General Kofi Annan of the United Nations; and former President Martti Ahtisaari of Finland, United Nations Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Future Status Process for Kosovo. President Kikwete referred to John J. Danilovich, Chief Executive Officer, Millennium Challenge Corporation.
* White House correction.
George W. Bush, The President's News Conference With President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/276940