Jim Fisher-Thompson

USIA Staff Correspondent

Name ID 271

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Extract Author: Jim Fisher-Thompson USIA Staff Correspondent
Extract Date: 1996 10 10

Tanzanian Resort Becomes Center for High-Level Meetings.

Public Diplomacy Query

ARUSHA, Tanzania -- In the highlands of northern Tanzania the violet/blue jacaranda trees are at the zenith of their beauty this fall, providing a colorful backdrop to a series of meetings Secretary of State Warren Christopher will have here with regional leaders October 11.

Nestled at the foot of picturesque Mount Meru, Arusha offers its 200,000 residents lush scenery and abundant wildlife as well as the money amassed from tourists who throng here from all over the world to visit game parks like Taraugire and Serengeti and the scenic Olduvai Gorge.

Arusha is also the center of a fertile agricultural region and in recent years has become a focal point for meetings of the East African Community and for Great Lakes leaders and foreign ministers who are shepherding a peace accord in Rwanda -- and an economic boycott against Burundi, site of a recent coup against its democratically elected government. The Pan African Postal Union also has a main office in town.

A traditional market town, Arusha is dominated at the center by a large clock tower and shopping area where Makonde carvings and the mineral meerschaum, which is mined in the vicinity, can be bought. In addition, the Cultural Heritage Center on Dodoma Road offers jewelry and gemstones as well as local crafts. Amethysts mined nearby are especially beautiful.

Secretary Christopher will land at nearby Kilimanjaro Airport before traveling to the Mount Meru Hotel, where he will have separate meetings with President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, President Daniel arap Moi of Kenya, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, and former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere, who has been an indefatigable worker for peace in the region.

Nyerere has the distinction of being the first African head of state since independence to step down from power voluntarily when he left office in 1985.

Certain to be a topic of discussion will be progress on the proceedings of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (lCTR), which has had full backing from the United Nations and the United States; the U.S. has so far contributed more than $9 million for its operation.

The Mount Meru Hotel, where Christopher's discussions will take place, is the largest hotel in Arusha. The day before the anticipated Christopher visit, its lobby, normally crowded with tourists in bush hats and safari jackets waiting to visit nearby game parks, was filled with a milling crowd of U.S. and African officials and their security officers.

Journalists from the Associated Press, the BBC, the Voice of America, and the Financial Times were also bumping into each other trying to get interviews with the officials, who were attracted to Arusha because of the Christopher visit.

Among those officials was U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania Brady Anderson, who began consultations with his staff about logistics for the secretary of states's official visit immediately after his arrival. Anderson, a fellow Arkansan and longtime friend of President Bill Clinton's, was appointed envoy here in 1994.

Ambassador Anderson's staff of 260, including 40 Americans, operates a mission that has among its many responsibilities overseeing a development assistance program in Tanzania that totaled $18.3 million in 1996. The development program, administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), emphasizes improvements in the rural transportation infrastructure, private enterprise development, and family planning.

According to USAID figures, the total amount of U.S. assistance to Tanzania from 1953 to 1992 was $480 million.

Extract ID: 1522