US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this evening met President Uhuru Kenyatta at the beginning of his three-day visit in the country and assured him of his Government’s commitment to Kenya on trade and security.
Mr. Tillerson said the US is interested in widening its investment in Kenya as well as strengthening the bilateral and trade relations between the two countries.
“There is no question about US commitment to Kenya on trade and security,” Mr. Tillerson said during the meeting at State House, Nairobi.
The US Secretary of State appreciated the cooperation between his country and Kenya on security in Somalia and South Sudan, saying the US stood ready to offer additional assistance whenever called upon to do so.
He said the US was also eager to engage Kenya in the Big Four to assist in its delivery, especially on relevant investments.
“The US is glad to see Kenya building investor confidence because that will help in the growth of the economy,” the US Secretary of State said.
Mr. Tillerson assured President Kenyatta that the US was also keen to see continental reforms of the business environment but was glad that the judicial reforms in place meant contracts were respected and there was a clear path on investment.
He added that the US looked forward to seeing the successful implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) because it offers a big market in which the US wants to engage.
Mr. Tillerson also spoke on cooperation in aviation where he welcomed the impending direct flights between the US and Kenya. He urged Kenya to maintain the security framework it has established to make the initiative a success.
Mr. Tillerson praised President Kenyatta for reaching out to NASA leader Raila Odinga, saying that was a major milestone in consolidating national unity.
“I am cheering for the success of Kenya,” Mr. Tillerson said, praising President Kenyatta for reaching out to Odinga.
President Kenyatta said the solid friendship and cooperation that continues to deepen, only serves to encourage Kenya to strengthen its resolve to work together with the US towards an even brighter future.
The President said he was keen to see an increasing footprint of US companies and businesses that have chosen to establish their regional bases in Kenya.
“Leading US multinationals such as IBM, Microsoft, Google, General Electric, Coca-Cola, and Bechtel, to name but a few, have opened their regional offices in Kenya; thereby providing themselves with the best platform to access the vast African market,” the President.
With direct flights between Kenya and the US commencing this October, President Kenyatta expressed optimism that there will be an exponential increase in the number of American tourists, business people, and students, taking advantage of world-renowned tourism products and growing trade and investment opportunities in Kenya.
On security, the President said the long-standing mutually enhanced security and military collaboration between Kenya and the US has played a big role in counter-terrorism, especially in the fight against Al-Shabaab in Somalia.
President Kenyatta pointed out that the security situation is still dependent on AMISOM and Somalia partners, saying the planned UN/AU withdrawal of AMISOM by 2020 needs to be carefully reviewed.
“Kenya calls on the US to strongly consider the proposal made to have a surge operation in Jubba Valley region, which was made almost three years ago, in order to root out al-Shabaab,” President Kenyatta said.
On South Sudan, the President said Kenya, together with other IGAD members, has remained fully engaged in finding a lasting solution.
“We are committed to supporting the IGAD High-Level Revitalization Forum, encouraging President Salva Kiir and the opposition to support the peace process, humanitarian assistance and the deployment of Regional Protection Force (RPF),” the President said.
President Kenyatta also informed the US Secretary of State of Kenya’s recently concluded hotly contested and protracted election, saying “The values and tenets that we both share and cherish, including; democratic governance, constitutionalism, rule of law, and human rights, were tested.”
He pointed out that although Kenyan institutions – including the judiciary, security services and the election body, IEBC – were also tested, they emerged stronger.
“As a people, we are more determined to forge a united front as we march forward in the path of progress,” President Kenyatta said.
The President told Mr Tillerson that Kenyans bestowed his Administration with a new mandate and his Government has initiated the Big Four Agenda, which offers a solid launching pad for enhanced partnership and collaboration at bilateral, regional and global arena.