Kenya, Uganda diplomats to meet over islands

June 23, 2011 11:13 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 23 – Kenyan diplomats are planning to hold talks with their Ugandan counterparts over the dispute surrounding the Migingo and Ugingo Islands in Lake Victoria.

Acting Foreign Affairs Minister George Saitoti said on Thursday that it was imperative to secure the country\’s borders through diplomacy, alluding to the incursions by Ethiopian Merille and Somalia militias into Kenya and the ongoing dispute over the two islands in Lake Victoria.

"These issues have been a constant source of concern to us and I am pleased to report that discussions between Kenya and Uganda Ministers are planned to be held early July, while similar meetings have been held with the government of Ethiopia with a view to resolving cross-border tensions," he said.

Speaking while launching the ministry\’s Strategic Plan, Prof Saitoti added that ensuring the stability of Kenya\’s neighbours would be instrumental in not only securing the country\’s resources but also garnering potential foreign investment.

"Somalia that has gone through instability for more than 20 years has greatly affected not only our people and resources but the image internationally. While we know that there are many investors who have come to Kenya, disregarding the instability in Somalia, perhaps we could have had more investors," he said.

With 28 percent of Kenya\’s export trade is with African Countries, Prof Saitoti said the Ministry will focus on opening missions in strategic countries to explore the country\’s export potential in the continent.

"With a market of over 800 million people, Kenya will have to develop very strong strategies to explore the opportunities because the competitiveness is going to increase. We need to invest in major infrastructure to connect with other countries," he urged.

In its one-year strategic plan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is aiming at boosting Kenya\’s image and cultivate trade opportunities through advancing economic prosperity of the country, enhancing regional peace and security, and improving partnership with the Kenyan Diaspora.

Under the theme Turning Global Challenges into Opportunities through Innovative Diplomacy, acting Permanent Secretary Patrick Wamoto said the plan seeks to help Kenya achieve its development agenda by addressing the various national, regional and global challenges.

"At the national level, high unemployment, high poverty levels and insecurity continue to hamper national development. To address these challenges the ministry will continue to engage all relevant stakeholders. At the regional level there is the influx of refugees and proliferation of small arms. Kenya will work to promoting regional peace and security," he said.

In efforts to achieve Vision 2030, the ministry said it would advance national growth through the five pillars of Kenya\’s foreign policy, that include economic diplomacy, peace diplomacy, environmental diplomacy, cultural diplomacy and Diaspora diplomacy.

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