Tanzanian Minister of Foreign Affairs and East Africa Cooperation, Dr. Augustine Mahiga says the ‘so called lake misunderstanding’ will not derail the more important need for cooperation between the two countries across multiple areas.
Mahiga was speaking after the two countries concluded and signed two agreements on Bilateral Air Services (BASA) and Cooperation in diplomatic and Political Consultations Sunday afternoon in Lilongwe.
Mahiga said the two countries were looking at the broader picture by seizing on opportunities for cooperation for the socio economic benefit of both countries.
Mahiga who signed the agreement with his Malawian counterpart Francis Kasaila said Tanzania has an obligation to assist landlocked countries like Malawi with access to the sea and other facilities that they do not readily have.
The signing of the agreements comes after three days of talks between technocrats from the two countries who had been meeting in Lilongwe from Friday as part of the Fourth Joint Permanent Commission of Cooperation (JPCC).
‘’This ‘so called lake misunderstanding’ is just a small item that must not derail us to focus on multiple areas of mutual cooperation and progress available to us. We must seize this opportunity and follow through all agreements without fail,’’ said Mahiga.
He further said the ‘landmark meeting’ that took place on the sidelines of the African Union Summit last week in Addis Ababa between President Peter Mutharika and Tanzanian President John Magufuli must act a spur for deepening of ties between the two countries that must be exploited in full.
Addressing the two teams, Mahiga said: ‘’I count on your commitment. I hope what has to be accomplished will be done soon. We were friends before, but we are now recharged.’’
The BASA opens up the air market for passengers and cargo from the two countries including code sharing on cargo and passengers, a development that will see increased direct trade and flights between the two countries.
It is also expected that the agreement will lead to reduced fares, frequency of passenger flights and cargo in and outflows.
The diplomatic agreement according to Kasaila, will provide an avenue and platform for the two countries to drive all areas of cooperation.
Said Kasaila: ‘’Malawi and Tanzania face similar challenges, therefore, the JPCC is a necessary and logical instrument of nurturing and cementing or relations.’’
He said Malawi under the leadership of President Mutharika will make sure the JPCC agreement achieves its aims of driving cooperation and integration of the peoples of the two neighbouring countries.
Other agreements discussed at the meeting that will be concluded soon according to the two ministers include those on health, agriculture, immigration, defence, broadcasting, information and communications technology, trade and investment, tourism, police, prisons, education and gender.
On the lake wrangle, both ministers concurred that they had resuscitated discussions on the lake issue after the meeting of the two Presidents in Ethiopia who directed them to engage the high level mediation team led by a team of retired heads of state from the Sadc region led by former presidents of Mozambique Joaquim Chisano; South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki and Botswana’s Festus Mogae.
It was disclosed that the two discussions that had stopped due to change of governments in both Malawi and Tanzania and will now restart at an expedited pace on the direction of Mutharika and Magufuli.
Kasaila and Mahiga both said they looked forward to concluding the issue as soon as possible.
Malawi and Tanzania were meeting for their fourth JPCC after a long time having last held a similar meeting in 2003 in Dar es Salaam.
The next JPCC will be held in Tanzania in 2019 where a review of the progress of relations will be reviewed again.
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