US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met President Uhuru Kenyatta at the beginning of his three-day visit in the country on Friday.
He assured the president of the US government’s commitment to Kenya on matters trade and security.
The envoy said US is interested in widening its investment in Kenya as well as strengthening the bilateral and trade relations.
“There is no question about US commitment to Kenya on trade and security,” Tillerson said during a meeting at State House, Nairobi.
He arrived in the country shortly after 4.30pm and was received at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma and other state officials.
The US Secretary of State appreciated the cooperation between his country and Kenya on security in Somalia and South Sudan.
He said the US stands ready to offer additional assistance whenever called upon to do so.
Secretary Tillerson further said the US was also eager to engage Kenya in the “Big Four” to assist in its delivery, especially on relevant investments.
“The US is glad to see Kenya building investor confidence because that will help in the growth of the economy,” Tillerson said.
He assured the President that the US is also keen to see continental reforms of the business environment.
The US official said he was glad that the judicial reforms in place meant contracts were respected and there was a clear path on investment.
He added that the US looked forward to seeing successful implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).
“…because it offers a big market in which the US want to engage.”
Secretary Tillerson also spoke on cooperation in aviation where he welcomed the impending direct flights between the US and Kenya.
He urged Kenya to maintain the security framework it has established to make the initiative a success.
He further praised the President for reaching out to NASA leader Raila Odinga, saying that was a major milestone for national unity.
“I am cheering for success of Kenya,” Tillerson said, praising President Kenyatta for reaching out to Raila.
The two met at Harambee House on Friday and gave a joint address to the nation after their deliberations.
For his part, Uhuru said the solid friendship and cooperation encourages Kenya to strengthen its resolve to work together with the US.
He said this is geared towards an even brighter future, adding that he was keen to see an increasing footprint of US companies and businesses.
“Leading US multinationals such as IBM, Microsoft, Google, General Electric, Coca Cola, and Bechtel, to name but a few, have opened their regional offices in Kenya; thereby providing themselves with the best platform to access the vast African market,” the President said.
With direct flights between Kenya and the US commencing this October, Uhuru expressed optimism that there will be an exponential increase in the number of American tourists, business people and students.
He welcomed the visitors to take advantage of world-renowned tourism products and growing trade and investment opportunities in Kenya.
On security, the President said the long-standing mutually enhanced security and military collaboration between Kenya and the US has played a big role in counter-terrorism, especially in the fight against Al-Shabaab in Somalia.
President Kenyatta pointed out that the security situation is still dependent on AMISOM and Somalia partners, saying the planned UN/AU withdrawal of AMISOM by 2020 needs to be carefully reviewed.
“Kenya calls on the US to strongly consider the proposal made to have a surge operation in Jubba Valley region, which was made almost three years ago, in order to root out al-Shabaab,” he said.
On South Sudan, the President said Kenya, together with other IGAD members, has remained fully engaged in finding a lasting solution.
“We are committed to supporting the IGAD High-Level Revitalization Forum, encouraging President Salva Kiir and the opposition to support the peace process, humanitarian assistance and the deployment of Regional Protection Force (RPF),” the President said.
President Kenyatta also informed the US Secretary of State of Kenya’s recently concluded hotly contested and protracted election, saying “The values and tenets that we both share and cherish, including; democratic governance, constitutionalism, rule of law, and human rights, were tested.”
He pointed out that although Kenyan institutions – including the judiciary, security services and the election body, IEBC – were also tested, they emerged stronger.
“As a people, we are more determined to forge a united front as we march forward in the path of progress,” the President said.
He told Secretary Tillerson that Kenyans bestowed his administration with a new mandate and his government has initiated the Big Four Agenda.
Uhuru said “the plan offers a solid launching pad for enhanced partnership and collaboration at bilateral, regional and global arena.”