Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi arrived Kenya on Thursday for his first state visit since taking office last month.
The newly elected leader was received by President Uhuru Kenyatta and was accorded full honors. He received a 21-gun salute and a guard of honor which was mounted by a detachment of the Kenya Army as the national anthems of Kenya and Somalia were played.
President Kenyatta and the Somalia president held one-on-one talks before leading their delegations in bilateral talks aimed at bolstering cooperation between the neighboring countries.
Speaking after the talks at State House, President Kenyatta announced that flights between Mogadishu and Nairobi will resume.
”We have directed the security teams from both countries meet immediately and agree on modalities of re-launching direct flights between Nairobi and Mogadishu within two weeks.”
”In particular, we agreed to take the following actions within the shortest possible time; open two border posts in Dobley-Liboi, and Mandera-Bulahawa and facilitate the movement of people, goods and services.”
Uhuru further revealed in the joint press conference that the discussions between the two leaders revolved around issues concerning security, trade and investment, civil aviation, agriculture, resource sharing and development.
Other issues also discussed are the cooperation in livestock development, fisheries, tourism, immigration, labour and health.
Another notable agreement between the two countries was that there will be no visa requirements for diplomatic and service passport holders from both countries.
Uhuru who termed Abdullahi’s visit as a fresh start for close ties between the neighbors said they also agreed to ‘meet regularly to monitor the progress of our bilateral relations.’
”This region and this continent are rising. Together, we are coming closer and closer to the freedom, security and prosperity that our people deserve. But we will achieve that only if we lift each other.”
“None of us can do it on our own: we will either rise together or fall separately. If Somalia prospers so does Kenya. If Somalia is peaceful so is Kenya. It is up to us then to do all we can to help each other secure these goods for our people.”
President Mohamed Abdullahi thanked Uhuru for his commitment in helping Somalia, calling Kenya one of Somalia’s strongest partners in East Africa.
He noted the country’s efforts with refugees and it’s contribution to the peace and stability of the region through the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).
Abdullahi said the resumption of flights will enhance the development of trade and bring economic growth that will improve the lives of millions of citizens.
”Our cooperation is critical to our historic relations and our continuous efforts to fight insecurity and poverty.”
”When it comes to trade, I believe the answer is not only to remove barriers to trade but to do trade right, [ensuring] strong labour and environmental standards so the rights of our people are protected.”
The Somalia President finally reassured the Kenyan government that his government was ready to work with Kenya to realize the full benefits of the cooperation.