In Summary
  • War on Shabaab: President hopes that the US leader will offer more help to defeat terrorist group operating in Somalia.
  • Trade and business: Kenya will also push for direct flights between Nairobi and America and stronger trade and commercial engagement.
  • Gay rights: State House said the matter was a non-issue in Kenyans and was unlikely to feature in talks between leaders

President Uhuru Kenyatta is hoping that the US will offer more help in the fight against Al-Shabaab when he meets President Barack Obama this week.

Explaining what he expects to discuss with Mr Obama, who is to arrive on Friday for a three-day visit, Mr Kenyatta said that the US is a leading partner in trade, accounting for more than Sh30 billion worth of business every year.

“Our textiles find a ready market in that country, our natural heritage brings many American visitors each year. Of course, there remains scope for better, more diversified, trade and investment in energy, in technology and in manufacturing,” he said in a televised address and press conference at State House, Nairobi, on Tuesday.

He was briefing the country on the visit as preparations for Mr Obama’s arrival were at their peak. He asked Kenyans to give the US leader a warm welcome.

The President also said Deputy President William Ruto would be in the government delegation that will meet Mr Obama. Western leaders have been avoiding meetings with Kenyan leaders standing trial at the Hague.

Pressed by reporters, Mr Kenyatta said the question of homosexuals, whose rights Mr Obama strongly supports, was a “non-issue” as far as the talks are concerned.

He dwelt at length on issues of substance that might form the agenda of bilateral talks between the two governments.

DIRECT FLIGHTS

Mr Kenyatta said Kenya’s reputation for innovation and enterprise was getting recognised globally.

“That same spirit inspired the young Kenyans who crafted the Ushahidi app. It inspired Kennedy Odede, founder of Shofco, and winner of Forbes’ top 30 under 30 prize,” said the President.

He also pledged to engage Mr Obama on expediting requests by Kenya for direct flights to and from the US, which the American government has been reluctant to grant on security grounds.

Confirming that 1,400 entrepreneurs had confirmed participation in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, the President hailed the idea of co-hosting the event with the US in Kenya, adding that it will be a great opportunity for emerging entrepreneurs, not only in Kenya, but the entire continent.

“I am glad to say that the government, and our partners, have devoted great care to these arrangements, and that our work has been rewarded with commitments from 1,400 participants — and a large delegation from the United States, accompanying President Obama,” he said.

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