President Obama and his predecessor, George W. Bush, laid a wreath at the U.S. Embassy here at a solemn memorial for victims of a 1998 terrorist bombing that killed dozens.
The two presidents walked side-by-side to a block of stone outside the embassy compound, which was adorned with a plaque with the names of the victims of the Aug. 7, 1998 blast, and a quote from then-President Bill Clinton. A Marine in dress uniform laid the red, white and blue wreath on an easel as the presidents, along with family members of the victims and embassy personnel, observed a moment of silence. Obama and Bush, dressed in dark suits and ties, bowed their heads.
President Barack Obama, center, and former president George W. Bush in Tanzania for a wreath-laying ceremony for victims of the 1998 Embassy bombing. (Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images)
After a moment, they shook hands with the family members. “Thanks very much,” Obama told one man. “Nice to see you,” Bush said. Then they headed back inside.
The bombing took place at the old embassy compound about 1 1/2 miles away at a site that is now a bank, an embassy official said. The Clinton quote, from Aug. 13, 1998 at Andrews Air Force Base, reads, “We must honor the memory of those we mourn by pressing the cause of freedom and justice for which they lived. It is the burden of our history and the bright hope of the world’s future.”
Six days earlier, al-Qaeda conducted simultaneous terrorist attacks at the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam. In Dar es Salaam, 10 Tanzanians were killed and more than 85 Americans and Tanzanians were injured. Fifteen Tanzanian embassy staff who survived the attack still work at the embassy, in a compound that opened in 2003.