Direct flights between Nairobi and Mogadishu to be relaunched

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By STELLA CHERONO
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President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Somalia counterpart Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed held a meeting at Statehouse Nairobi and discussed a wide range of issues touching on security, trade and investment, civil aviation and other issues affecting the two countries.

The two Heads of State also talked about the need to reinvigorate efforts to scale up collaboration in mutual areas of interest identified during the inaugural session of the Joint Commission for Cooperation that was held in Nairobi in July 2015.

They include education, agriculture, resources sharing and development, livestock development, fisheries, tourism, immigration, labour and health.

In his maiden visit as the President of Somalia, Mr Mohammed was received at Statehouse Nairobi in a colourful ceremony on Thursday morning, and was accorded full honours complete with a 21-gun salute.

Mr Mohammed inspected his first guard of honour mounted by a detachment of the Kenya Army while the national anthems of both countries were played by the military band.

Last month, President Kenyatta attended the inauguration of President Mohamed in Mogadishu and pledged Kenya’s continued support to the Horn of Africa country.

The Kenyan leader assured the new Somali President that Kenya would remain steadfast in supporting efforts that would bring peace and stability in Somalia.

During the meeting, Kenya and Somalia opened a new charter of cooperation by announcing plans to open two border posts and a re-launch of direct flights between Nairobi and Mogadishu.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said Kenya and Somalia have agreed to revitalize their engagement in all areas of mutual interests within the context of a reactivated joint commission of cooperation.

“In particular, we agreed to take the following actions: Within the shortest possible time, open two border posts in Dhobley-Liboi, and Mandera-Bulahawa. And to facilitate the movement of people, goods and services,” President Kenyatta said.

Deputy President William Ruto, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretaries Amina Mohamed (foreign affairs), Joseph Nkaissery (security), Raychelle Omamo (defence), James Macharia (transport), Cleopa Mailu (health), Willy Bett (agriculture), Mwangi Kiunjuri (devolution) and Dan Kazungu (mining) attended the bilateral talks.

President Kenyatta said the two neighbouring countries have resolved that forthwith there will be no visa requirement for diplomatic and service passport holders from both countries.

“We also agreed to meet regularly to monitor the progress of our bilateral relations,” President Kenyatta said, terming President Mohamed’s visit a fresh start to the two countries’ close ties.

President Mohamed lauded Kenya as one of Somalia’s strongest ally and partners in East Africa, hosting the largest number of Somali refugees for decades and contributing to the peace and stability of Somalia through the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

“Our cooperation is indeed critical to our historic relations and our continuous efforts to fight insecurity and poverty,” said President Mohamed.

Additional reporting by PSCU.


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