Iranian leader in Nairobi visit

February 24, 2009 12:00 am

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 24 – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Nairobi Tuesday evening, marking the start of an African tour that will take him through Kenya, Djibouti and the Comoros.

President Ahmadinejad was received by President Mwai Kibaki at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, where he was briefly entertained by local dancers.

The Iranian leader’s visit is aimed at boosting trade ties between and , where he and President Kibaki are expected to witness the signing of bilateral agreements at State House Nairobi.

Among the agreements are a memorandum of understanding on water supply, another on oil and a deal launching a direct Kenya Airways flight between the two countries.

President Ahmadinejad is accompanied on his regional tour by a delegation of officials and businessmen numbering close to 100.

Iran is one of the leading importers of Kenyan tea and is providing assistance to the country on several major projects, aimed at upgrading the energy sector as well as infrastructure.

Kenya is one of Washington‘s top allies on the continent but Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula has dismissed any suggestion that Ahmadinejad’s visit could harm local ties with the .

The accuses of sponsoring several organisations it lists as terrorist in the Middle East and has also been at loggerheads with the Islamic country over its nuclear programme.

"If any such reservations have been made, they are misplaced because our friendship with country A is not to the exclusion of country B. Every relationship has its unique factors and qualities; our relationship with is commercial," Mr Wetangula had said on Sunday.

He said that Kenya did not object to Iran‘s nuclear programme so long as it had peaceful objectives.

"We don’t believe that any country in the world, with no exception, should possess nuclear weapons because they are unhelpful to advancing the course of humanity," he said.


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