, JERUSALEM, Israel, Feb 23 – President Uhuru Kenyatta met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, at the start of a visit to cement Kenya’s long security and trade relations with the State of Israel.
At the Prime Minister’s Office in the fabled city of Jerusalem, President Kenyatta spoke of the historic ties between the two states, and his desire to expand relations spanning a wide range of areas – from agriculture and irrigation to security and Information Technology, in which Israel is traditionally strong.
- The Israeli President praised the role Kenya plays in negotiations for peace negotiations as well as peacekeeping.
- President Kenyatta and the Israeli President said the two countries will cooperate more in the war against terror.
- President Kenyatta also invited Israelis to invest in the numerous economic opportunities in Kenyan.
President Kenyatta and Prime Minister Netanyahu signed agreements on irrigation and agriculture, furthering an agenda that both Nairobi and Tel Aviv have sought to deepen over the last several years.
President Kenyatta hailed Israel as “a friend of Kenya”, after the Prime Minister had talked of the two countries historic ties, and his happiness at seeing President Kenyatta honour a long-standing invitation to visit Israel.
Tuesday was the start of official events for the Kenyan leader, who arrived in Israel on Monday accompanied by a delegation that reflects his agenda of investment, agriculture and irrigation, trade, security and health. He is accompanied by Cabinet Secretaries Amina Mohammed, Major-Gen (Rtd) Joseph Nkaissery, Eugene Wamalwa, and Dr Cleopa Mailu.
President Kenyatta separately met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, where the two leaders spoke on the need for closer ties between the two countries.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is the Head of Government while President Rivlin is the Head of State.
President Rivlin emphasised that Israel stands with Kenya in the face of the threats posed by terrorists to the country over its role in regional security.
“We feel the pain together with you. Israel stands together with you against those who pretend to speak in the name of Islam as they murder men, women and children,” said President Rivlin, as he expressed Israel’s solidarity with Kenya following the terror attack on KDF forces in Somalia.
The Israeli President praised the role Kenya plays in negotiations for peace negotiations as well as peacekeeping.
“I salute you with the people of Israel. Israel is proud of the cooperation between our two countries,” said President Rivlin.
President Kenyatta and the Israeli President said the two countries will cooperate more in the war against terror.
President Kenyatta said “We in Kenya hold Israel as a dear and very special friend. The war on terrorism is international and we must all join hands together to defeat it.”
President Rivlin said Israel supports the deployment of the Kenya Defence Forces in Somalia, adding that the work they were doing is for the benefit of the whole region and the world.
The Israeli leader said President Kenyatta’s visit to Israel, the first by a Kenyan President in 22 years, was a key step in strengthening the existing ties between the two countries.
President Kenyatta said the first area Kenya wants to benefit from is Israel’s expertise in the war against terror and regional security matters.
President Kenyatta also invited Israelis to invest in the numerous economic opportunities in Kenyan.
“There are unlimited opportunities for local and foreign investors and we invited Israeli investors to invest more in Kenya,” said President Kenyatta.
Areas where Kenya is seeking closer ties with Israel include infrastructure, mining, ICT and closer links between universities.
President Kenyatta later planted a tree at The Grove of Nations in Jerusalem. He became the 80th Head of State to plant a tree at the forest of nations, as it is known, where visiting leaders plant olive trees.