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Visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta agreed in Nairobi on Saturday to advance bilateral ties.
“Kenya has a new and able partner in our march to progress and prosperity. With implementation of this (SGR) and other flagship projects in cooperation with public and private partners, China has secured a place of honour in the history of Kenya’s economic development,” Kenyatta said during a joint press conference.
Kenya’s ties with the West has taken a hit after many western governments including the US and the UK reduced diplomatic contacts with the country following the election of Kenyatta, indicted by the International Criminal Court for ethnic violence.
China congratulated the new Kenyan president after he assumed office, in contrast to skeptical reactions from the United Kingdom and United States.
British officials had warned before the election that it would have only “essential contact” with Kenyatta if he was voted into power.
“Choices have consequences,” warned US Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson in reference to Kenyatta before Kenyans went to vote in the crucial elections.
Meanwhile, in Nairobi, Li said trade and investment are the “cornerstone” of China-Kenya ties even as Beijing becomes the leading foreign direct investor in the African nation.
Li promised to encourage more Chinese investment in Kenya’s manufacturing sector, including building industrial parks, and aid Kenya improve product processing capability and competitiveness in global markets.
The Chinese Premier said Beijing and Nairobi should jointly operate regional air routes and build railway networks.
The bilateral cooperation also includes agriculture and food safety, environment and wildlife protection for sustainable development, and a joint scientific research center for Africa, said the Chinese leader.
Kenyatta said Li’s trip will further the strategic partnership between Africa and China.
Li and Kenyatta also vowed to protect wildlife saying they will spare no effort in combating poaching and ivory smuggling. China has also announced $100 million in aid for wildlife protection for Africa during Li’s trip.
Beijing has also pledged support for Africa’s peace and security initiatives as the region is troubled by a recent spate in terror-related violence.
“China as we all recognise, possesses substantial political, diplomatic and financial assets, which, if fully applied, would be a game-changer in the region’s peace and security efforts,” said Kenyatta in the press conference after meeting Li.
Kenya is the last leg of Li’s first Africa trip as premier, which has already taken him to Ethiopia, Nigeria and Angola.
TBP and Agencies