ENTEBBE, Uganda, Jul 5 – President Uhuru Kenyatta Monday evening joined other regional leaders for a summit that discussed ways to scale up cooperation with Israel on issues of security and economic development.
The two-hour summit held at Entebbe, Uganda, was attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, host President Yoweri Museveni and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
Others were Presidents Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Salva Kiir (South Sudan), Edgar Lungu (Zambia) while Tanzania was represented by Foreign Minister Augustine Mahiga.
Kenya has been at the forefront in supporting the global war against terrorism and the meeting was a boost to its efforts in curbing the vice.
The meeting – the first of its kind to involve the eight countries – emphasised the need for increased regional and international collaboration in all fields to combat terrorism, including cyber security and information gathering.
In a joint declaration issued at the end of the summit, the leaders observed that terrorism was a major threat to international peace and security.
On development, the regional leaders agreed on the importance of their governments to work closely with Israel to explore new avenues of partnership on capacity building and utilisation of innovative technologies, particularly renewable energy.
The leaders exuded optimism that the meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu heralded a new chapter of cooperation with Israel at bilateral and multilateral levels.
“The Heads of State and Government shared the view that the summit marked the importance of the friendly relations between Africa and Israel, and presented an opportunity to send a positive message on North-South cooperation,” the declaration issued at the end of the summit said in part.
Speaking at the summit, Prime Minister Netanyahu underscored the invigorated relationship between Israel and Africa on economic development and security.
The Prime Minister singled out the war against terrorism as a major area of partnership, saying teamwork is key to “fighting forces that want to take us back”.
He assured the regional leaders that Israel presents the best partner to supporting Africa’s development aspirations.
“Israel is back to Africa and wants a better future for the continent. In the same vein, Africa joins Israel in advocating for world peace and security,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said.
The Prime Minister said Israel is ready to share its experience on health, technology, agriculture and water resource management with Africa.
The summit was held on the margins of the 40th anniversary of the historic Entebbe hostage rescue by Israeli Special Forces.
President Kenyatta travelled to Entebbe for the summit in the afternoon and flew back in the evening.
On Tuesday, he will host Prime Minister Netanyahu at State House, Nairobi for bilateral talks.