NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 23 – Kenya and Somalia Thursday opened a new charter of cooperation by announcing plans to open two border posts and a re-launch of direct flights between Nairobi and Mogadishu.
President Uhuru Kenyatta said Kenya and Somalia have agreed to revitalise their engagement in all areas of mutual interests within the context of a reactivated joint commission of cooperation.
“In particular, we agreed to take the following actions: Within the shortest possible time, open two border posts in Dobley-Liboi, and Mandera-Bulahawa. And to facilitate the movement of people, goods and services,” President Kenyatta said.
“Directed the security teams from both countries to meet immediately and agree on modalities of re-launching direct flights between Nairobi and Mogadishu within two weeks.
President Kenyatta was addressing the press after leading his delegation in bilateral talks with Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and his delegation at State House, Nairobi.
Deputy President William Ruto, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretaries Amina Mohamed, Joseph Nkaissery, Raychelle Omamo, James Macharia, Cleopa Mailu, Willy Bett, Mwangi Kiunjuri and Dan Kazungu attended the bilateral talks.
President Kenyatta said the two neighbouring countries have resolved that forthwith there will be no visa requirement for diplomatic and service passport holders from both countries.
“We also agreed to meet regularly to monitor the progress of our bilateral relations,” President Kenyatta said, terming President Mohamed’s visit a fresh start to the two countries’ close ties.
On the war against terrorism, President Kenyatta and the Somalia President agreed that the fight against Al-Shabaab evil criminals must continue until they are no longer a threat.
“Al Shabaab remains ready to kill innocent people in both Kenya and Somalia,” President Kenyatta said.
To support the enhancement of technical skills necessary for rehabilitation upon return, President Kenyatta said Kenya will establish a technical training institute for youths currently in refugee camps and its environs.
He said Kenya has also committed to train 200 teachers, 200 nurses and 100 administrators within its institutions and at government cost.
“This region, and this continent, are rising: together, we are coming closer and closer to the freedom, the security and the prosperity that our people deserve. But we will achieve that freedom, that prosperity, and that security, only if we each lift the other,” President Kenyatta said.
He added: None of us can do it on our own: we will either rise together, or fall separately. If Somalia prospers, so does Kenya. If Somalia is peaceful, so is Kenya. It is up to us, then, to do all we can to help each other secure these goods for our people.’
The two leaders and their delegations also discussed the Somalia’s refugees issue with a view to help them return to rebuild their nation, a conversation that will continue at IGAD’s Special Summit on Durable Solutions for Somalia Refugees that Kenya will host on Saturday.
President Mohamed lauded Kenya as one of Somalia’s strongest ally and partners in East Africa, hosting the largest number of Somali refugees for decades and contributing to the peace and stability of Somalia through the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
He said the authorization of the resumption of flights from Nairobi to Mogadishu in two weeks’ time by President Kenyatta ushers in a new beginning that will enhance development of trade and economic growth between the two countries.
“Our cooperation is indeed critical to our historic relations and our continuous efforts to fight insecurity and poverty,” said President Mohamed.
The Somalia leader pointed out that the close economic cooperation between Kenya and Somalia will not only help improve the lives of millions of the citizens of the two countries but also enhance security in the East African region.
For that reason, President Mohamed said, his government was ready to work with the Kenyan Government to realize the full benefits of the economic cooperation between the two nations.
“When it comes to trade, I believe that the answer is not only to remove barriers to trade but to do trade right, making sure it has strong labour standards and strong environment standards to ensure the rights of our people are protected,” said the Somali leader.