NAIROBI, November 27 – Spain has pledged to assist Kenya in fighting terrorism and piracy along the East African coastline.
The visiting Secretary of State for Tourism Joan Mesquida said on Thursday that piracy posed a major threat to the region’s well being and expressed his government’s commitment to combat the vice.
“Mr Mesquida appreciated the cordial relations between Kenya and Spain, saying that in the spirit of the relationship, his Government would like to work at a bilateral level with Kenya in the field of Technology Innovation, Security and Tourism,” a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in part.
“Mr Mesquida expresses the goodwill of Spain in fostering the existing relationship and cooperation with Kenya, bearing in mind the healthy bilateral relations between the two countries.”
The visiting Minister also informed Foreign Affairs Minister Mr MosesWetangula that the Government of Spain was in the process of preparing the 2nd Africa plan (2009-2012).
In the plan, Spain hopes to increase its commitment to the African continent, both at the regional and bilateral level. The plan focuses on the Sub-Saharan region, taking into account common challenges and interests such as the follow up of the Millennium Development Golas, peace building initiatives and stability; environmental conservation and fostering economic and cultural ties.
Mr Mesquida said Kenya would continue to be a priority country in the 2nd Africa Plan due its leading position in East Africa.
The Minister also informed Mr Wetangula that the President of the Spanish Government had announced his interest to visit the East Africa region in 2009 in preparation of Spanish presidency of the EU starting January 2012 with a view to prompting further contacts with authorities in the region so as to strengthen relations.
Mr Wetangula praised the good relations between Kenya and Spain, and appreciated Spain’s assistance to the tourism sector, saying that Kenya’s economy relies on tourism.
The Minister said Kenya welcomed Spain’s gesture to help in making the marine route safe again. He however requested the international community to work in coordination so as to stem out the problem due to the nature and sophistication of the pirates.
He regretted that the pirates have become bolder in the recent past, venturing further beyond the Somali territorial waters to seize ships. The Minister assured Mr Mesquida of Kenya’s readiness to work with other stakeholders deal with the pirates.