27 March 2014

Tanzania: Dar Keen On Peace Talks With Rwanda

TANZANIA plans to hold talks with Rwanda to iron out differences that the government says have been blown out of proportion by the media.

Revealing the above at a press conference in Dar es Salaam, Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Bernard Membe stressed that Tanzania has no conflict with Rwanda. "There has been what we call a ball point war between Rwanda and Tanzania.

However, we are planning talks to iron out the differences that have emerged -- and continue to live like brothers," Mr Membe explained.

The minister added that if left unchecked, such kind of media propaganda can jeopardise relations between countries that have been enjoying good diplomatic relations. He said what was missing between the two countries is lack of trust, noting that it takes time to build trust.

"The official talks between the two nations will be the starting point," he pointed out.

A Rwandan newspaper, which is owned by the government, had published fabricated and malicious reports accusing President Jakaya Kikwete of supporting members of rebel groups opposed to the government in Kigali.

Mr Membe said Tanzania did not send troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to fight the M23 but rather it sent forces to join the United Nations Peacekeeping Force there.

He said latest reports from Goma in DRC show that peace is finally being restored in the area, which was essentially the mission of the peacekeeping force.

"According to our envoy in Goma, peace is finally getting restored in the area and our boys will stay there for one year until peace is fully restored," he explained.

Meanwhile, commenting on the Lake Nyassa border conflict between Tanzania and Malawi, Mr Membe said the two countries are expected to meet with the Reconciliation Panel led by former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano in June after Malawi's general elections.

Mr Membe said the two parties will present the pro and cons of the lake border being disputed in the second meeting. He reported that the panel tasked the two parties to focus on social rather than legal facts surrounding the lake conflict.

"The panel asked both parties to focus on local conditions around the lake and the positive and negative impacts if the border is at the middle or if the whole lakes belong to Malawi," he explained.

He said both parties presented before the panel legal evidence over "who owns which" portion of the lake.

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