, NEW YORK, Sept 29 — President Uhuru Kenyatta and UK Prime Minister David Cameron held a bilateral meeting in New York on Monday signalling the beginning of a reset in the relationship between Kenya and the United Kingdom.
President Kenyatta and PM Cameron, who is set to visit Kenya next year, spoke on forging stronger security, economic and diplomatic pacts between the two countries.
The meeting was in two parts with the second session being a one-to-one between President Kenyatta and PM Cameron.
Cameron was categorical in his wish to see Kenya and the UK strengthen their long-standing relations.
“It is time for us to reset our relationship and put the past behind us,” he said in the meeting that was also attended by Cabinet Secretaries Amina Mohamed (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and Maj Gen (Rtd) Joseph Nkaissery (Ministry of Interior). The UK Prime Minister was accompanied by Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and five senior advisors
At the same time, PM Cameron expressed his regrets over the harm caused by UK travel advisories to the tourism sector at the Kenya coast.
He said the advisories are generated by an independent arm but the UK government has made it known that negative effects travel alerts have on Kenya’s economy are working against the efforts by Kenya and other countries to defeat extremists.
“We all agree that the effect of the advisories are what the terrorists actually want because it defeats the efforts to stop extremists from seducing people into their activities,” said PM Cameron.
President Kenyatta said the travel advisories were counterproductive because they hurt the local economy and create unemployment which in turn makes it easier for extremists to recruit and brainwash jobless youth.
“The advisories work contrary to our aim to defeat extremism and they have hurt the economy of the whole coast region,” said the President.
President Kenyatta said Kenya and Britain have been cooperating on security matters and the same engagements will be strengthened.
The two leaders discussed regional efforts, in which Kenya is playing a major role, to bring back stability to Somalia, Southern Sudan and other areas in the greater Eastern Africa affected by conflicts.
The two leaders agreed that there was need for a more concerted global effort to make Somalia stable by defeating the terrorists who have refused to give the country peace and pose threats to Kenya as well as other neighbouring countries.
President Kenyatta said the fight against the terrorists in Somalia will be increased to defeat them completely and make Somalia stable.
“It is not in the interest of Kenya or the whole world to continue with the status quo in Somalia because the problem is not going away. We have to defeat the terrorists conclusively to end the problem in Somalia which has affected us,” said the President.
Still on security matters, PM Cameron said he looks forward to the renewal of a military agreement between Kenya and the UK for the training of British troops in Kenya.
The President and the PM also discussed the upcoming Immigration Summit that will be held in Malta later in the year.
President Kenyatta said concrete ideas to deal with the problem of immigration should be brought to the Malta conference.
He said most of the countries in the world have always been dealing with the problems of immigration not at the source but at its tail end.
PM Cameron agreed that Europe and other countries in the world have to do more to address the root causes of immigration.
“The current immigration crisis in Europe is making us realise that we have not done enough to help solve the problems in regions facing conflicts,” he said.