Kenya and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday agreed that the resolution of the Somalia conflict and stabilisation of the horn of Africa nation was a key priority ahead of the reconstruction of the country.
Meeting in Abu Dhabi, UAE, President Kibaki and UAE President and ruler of the Abu Dhabi, Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan underscored their joint support for post-conflict Somalia, a country that has not had a stable central government in the last 20 years.
“We are following closely what is happening in Somalia and will support efforts to normalise Somalia and give hope to the country,” said President Zayed.
On his part President Kibaki said Kenya’s current mission to Somalia was out of the desire to find a solution that could bring about lasting peace to Somalia and the region.
“We need normalcy and development in Somalia. We will continue our efforts to stabilise the country and look forward to getting the help of our friends to support the reconstruction of Somalia, whose people desire peace,” President Kibaki stressed.
The two leaders also underscored the need for increased humanitarian assistance for the people of Somalia who have borne the suffering after many years of conflict.
“Kenya is hosting close to one million of the Somali population. We must now start thinking of ways in which they can be integrated in a stable Somalia and support them in efforts to reconstruct their country,” the leaders affirmed.
On bilateral relations President Zayed praised the many Kenyans currently working in UAE for their contribution to the economy of his country and welcomed a request by President Kibaki that more Kenyans be allowed to work in the Emirates.
The Head of State told his host, “United Arab Emirates is host to over 40,000 Kenyans who reside and work in various sectors especially in services and hospitality industries and in business. In this regard, I would be pleased if our respective countries could consider initiating negotiations that could lead to mutual recognition of training curriculums. The harmonisation is critical in areas such as hospitality, health and engineering as well as a visa and work permit arrangements which would more easily fulfil your skilled manpower needs. My Government is expanding training capacity to meet the United Arab Emirates demands for tailor made and adaptable courses.”
President Kibaki also welcomed more tourists and investors from UAE to visit and invest in Kenya, following the signing of a bilateral agreement between the two countries on the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.
The President reiterated that people of the Gulf region and from the East African Coast have had contacts spanning many centuries which enabled them to conduct trade and share common experiences in culture, history and religion.
He said, “The relations between our two countries have continued to grow from strength to strength to the extent that today, the United Arab Emirates is Kenya’s third largest trading and investment partner and the largest in the Gulf region.”
President Kibaki further supported and welcomed the desire by the UAE to establish a residence mission in Nairobi.
Earlier at his hotel of residence in Abu Dhabi, President Kibaki met and held discussions with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of United Arab Emirates Armed Forces General Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The discussions focused on strengthening the already existing excellent relations between the two countries anchored on common economic, cultural and historical ties.
President appreciated that UAE was hosted over 40,000 Kenyans who worked in various sectors of the economy especially in the hospitality and the services sectors.