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German chancellor to visit Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 10 – German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Kenya from Monday night to discuss the role the country is playing on the economic and political spheres.

German ambassador Margit Hellwig-Boette said the Chancellor chose to make Kenya her first stop in her three-nation visit because of its strategic role in shaping the region\’s political and economic stability.

"The Chancellor\’s visit is a sign of recognition in Kenya\’s role on political and economic development in the region," the ambassador said.

"Yesterday (Saturday) we saw South Sudan becoming a new nation, we know Kenya has done a lot towards that realisation and in bringing peace not only to Sudan but in places like Somalia as well. This is something very important to the European community," she added at a press conference held at her Muthaiga residence on Sunday evening ahead of the Chancellor\’s visit to Kenya.

She said the Chancellor would also focus her visit on "economic cooperation because she is accompanied by business and political delegation."

"It is all about our future cooperation on the issues of economic and political cooperation," she said without clarifying. "She is certainly impressed by the cooperation so far and we are looking for possibilities of bringing Kenya and German business cooperation more closely."

Ms Merkel arrives in Nairobi on Monday night and will stay on until Tuesday evening when she departs for Angola, the second in her tour of three African nations. She will be in Nigeria on her third day.

"We\’d like to expand this (partnership) and perhaps promote it even more," she said.

"It is the mixture of economic and political concerns that German is most interested in….we have common interests because you Kenya recently passed a new constitution and there is a lot to learn from German," she added. "So part of the essence of the visit is to share the experience."

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During her busy schedule on Tuesday, Ms Merkel will hold bilateral talks with the President and the Prime Minister separately and later hold a joint press conference with Mr Odinga before heading to a State luncheon hosted in her honour by President Kibaki.

Later on at 3 pm, she will issue a keynote address at the University of Nairobi\’s Taifa Hall and later visit the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) before winding her visit with a visit to the UNEP where she will hold round table discussions with experts there mainly on renewable energy where German is a world leader.

The ambassador said the visit to ILRI was significant because German scientists have been heavily involved in research there for several years.

A group of German business leaders will join Ms Merkel on her second Africa tour since becoming chancellor in 2005.

"I want to show that Germany takes very seriously the development of the African continent," Ms Merkel said in a weekly statement published on her office\’s website on Saturday.

"Germany wants to play a supportive role," the statement said, explaining that Ms Merkel will visit "three large economies facing major problems in establishing stable political structures".

The Chancellor will discuss cooperation in the raw material sector in Angola, a country that relies heavily on petroleum exports, the statement said.

Angola\’s blooming oil industry has helped the country establish one of the highest annual economic growth rates in Africa.

Ms Merkel will also meet with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.

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A source within Ms Merkel\’s office said some economic cooperation agreements would be signed on the trip.

The German leader is also expected to discuss reforms on the UN Security Council, where Africa is lobbying for two permanent seats.

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