The Washington Post

Obama, Bush to meet at embassy event in Tanzania

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania -- President Obama and former president George W. Bush on Tuesday will both participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the U.S. Embassy here, the site of a terrorist bombing in 1998.

The two presidents are overlapping in their trips here, as Obama completes the final leg of a week-long Africa tour and Bush accompanies wife Laura to a first ladies summit hosted by the Bush Foundation. First lady Michelle Obama also will participate in that event, along with wives of African leaders.

The embassies in Dar es Salaam and in Nairobi, Kenya, suffered simultaneous truck bombings that killed hundreds of people on Aug. 7, 1998. The attacks were linked to a jihadist group in Egypt as well as al-Qaeda's Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Obama will lay the wreath at a memorial commemorating the attack, and Bush will join him, White House officials announced aboard Air Force One on Monday. The two presidents are not scheduled to make public remarks at the ceremony.

Obama has praised Bush's legacy in Africa, in particular his administration's investment in a signature program to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS. In some ways, the Obama administration's work in Africa on trade, health care and other initiatives have been overshadowed by a major expansion of U.S. military operations on the continent, including drone bases and special forces operations.

Africom, the U.S. command, has grown to employ 2,000 personnel since launching operations in 2007.

As the Post reported this year, Pentagon officials say their expanded involvement in Africa is necessary to combat the spread of al-Qaeda affiliates in North Africa and Somalia and other guerrillas such as Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army. And while U.S. military leaders have sought to downplay their rudimentary network of bases on the continent, there are signs that they are planning for a much more robust presence.

 

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.

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