Security tops agenda for Obama trip

Security tops agenda for Obama trip

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Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta says improving security co-operation and trade links between Kenya and the US will top the agenda when US President Barack Obama visits the country this weekend.
A major western ally in the battle against the spread of militant Islam from Somalia, members of Kenya’s security agencies receive training and equipment from the US, Britain and Israel.
Yet over the past two years Kenya has suffered a series of major attacks by Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab, including a massacre in April of 148 people at a Kenyan university near the Somali border.
The violence has hurt Kenya’s tourism industry, vital to East Africa’s biggest economy, and has piled pressure on Kenyatta to improve security.
President Obama’s two-day visit is due to start late on July 24.
‘The fight against terror will be central (to discussions). We have been working in very close co-operation with American agencies,’ Kenyatta said.
Obama’s visit to his father’s homeland to co-host the Global Entrepreneurship Summit with Mr Kenyatta has been touted by Kenya as global recognition of the economic strides the country has made in the past decade.
Kenyatta said he wanted more US companies to work with Kenyan firms in the energy and health sectors, as well as infrastructure development.
Establishing direct flights between Kenya and the US would also be on the agenda of the visit, as the lack of such a direct transport link was hurting business and tourism, Kenyatta said.
He hopes Obama’s visit will help Kenya obtain the US regulatory status required for direct flights there, he told a news conference. US officials have previously cited concerns about security measures at Nairobi’s main airport as the reason for the US regulator disallowing direct flights to Kenya.
Kenyatta also dismissed gay rights as a ‘nonissue to the people of this country, and it is definitely not on our agenda at all,’ in response to a question about gay rights.
‘We as a country, as a continent, are faced with much more serious issues, which we would want to engage the US and all our partners with.’
Kenyatta said Deputy President William Ruto, who was still on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague accused of crimes against humanity, would also meet the US leader.
Obama’s planned Kenya visit was itself long delayed by Kenyatta’s indictment by the ICC. Those charges, linked to postelection ethnic violence in 2007-08, were suspended last year.
Kenyatta said Mr Obama would meet all members of the government.
‘Without a doubt, he is coming to meet the government that is in place, that includes all of us,’ Mr Kenyatta said, standing alongside Ruto.
‘We shall all be meeting,’ he said.
Ruto has spoken out against homosexuality, telling worshippers in church earlier this month it was ‘against the plan’of God.
‘We have heard that in the US they have allowed gay relations and other dirty things,” Mr Ruto said, according to the Daily Nation newspaper.
Agence France Presse (AFP) reports that one Kenyan man, Kidala Vincent, has promised to lead a march of ‘5,000 totally naked men and women’ to protest against Obama’s support for gay rights, so that he can ‘see and understand the difference between a man and woman.’

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