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Kenya and U.S. talks to weigh heavy on trade and economy       

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s agenda for talks with United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday will be dominated by economic and trade issues, the country’s top diplomat said on Thursday.

Monica Juma, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade , said other issues in the agenda will include regional security, wildlife management and deepening participation of U.S. in African Union affairs.

“Deepening and growing bilateral relations will be key part of the discussion. The talks will focus on how we can grow AGOA [Africa Growth and Opportunity Act],” she told media in the capital Nairobi.

AGOA allows non-reciprocal free access of selected goods from Africa to the U.S. market. Kenya is among the beneficiary countries, with others having been lobbying to have the trade opportunity extended beyond 2025.

Juma said the talks will be cordial and about mutual interest of the two countries, terming U.S as an important partner for Kenya.

“We shall also be seeking to tap U.S. support for the Big Four Agenda. We believe this is a worthy investment because it will lead to the betterment of living standards of Kenyans,” she said.

The Big Four Agenda refers to the four sectors that President Uhuru Kenyatta has committed the largest share of investment in his current term in office.

They include increasing manufacturing contribution to the economy from 9 percent to 15 percent, achieve universal access to health insurance, achieve food security status and construct new 500,000 homes.

Another agenda will be on regional security, said Juma.



African Union and the United States discuss ways of strengthening partnership

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The African Union (AU) and the United States have discussed ways of strengthening their partnership.

The U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, on Thursday met and held talks with the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, at the headquarters of the pan-African bloc in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

After their meeting, the two officials told the press that they have discussed ways of strengthening partnership between Africa and the U.S. in trade, peace and security, health, fight against corruption and illicit financial flow.

Tillerson has appreciated the efforts and role the AU plays in economic regional integration of Africa and ensuring peace and stability on the continent, as well as strengthening the African Center for Disease control, on which he said U.S. is keen to forge closer collaboration.


U.S. ups aid to Africa, asks for support on global stage ahead of Tillerson’s trip

WASHINGTON United States (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that the United States will provide additional aid for African countries suffering conflict and drought, while asking for their aligned actions on the global stage.

In a speech at the George Mason University in Virginia, Tillerson said the United States would provide about 533 million U.S. dollars in extra aid for Africa.

The aid will go to Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and the western and central African countries bordering Lake Chad, hit by a food crisis due to conflict or prolonged drought.

In the speech delivered ahead of his week-long trip to Africa, the top U.S. diplomat also urged more African countries to “take an active role on the global stage,” including joining Washington in its “maximum pressure” strategy against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to curb the latter’s nuclear development.

While acknowledging efforts by Angola, Senegal and Ethiopia, Tillerson said many African countries are “holding back.”

“Nations in Africa need to do more,” he remarked.

In his roughly 40-minute speech, Tillerson expressed Washington’s  intention of developing closer ties with the continent and more economic and trade exchanges. The U.S. private sector, he said, was willing to help develop the “vast, undeveloped natural resources” in Africa.

Tillerson’s eight-day trip to Africa starts Tuesday and will take him to Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Chad and Nigeria.

The Trump administration hasn’t shed much light on Africa in its foreign policy priorities. The post of assistant secretary of state for African affairs had been vacant for several months before an acting assistant secretary was appointed.

The policies as well as personal remarks by U.S. President Donald Trump have so far worked to jeopardize ties between Washington and African countries.

In December, the U.S. Supreme Court approved Trump’s ban on almost all travel to the U.S. by citizens from countries including Chad, Somalia and Libya from entering the United States. The controversial decision has drawn serious criticism at home and abroad.

In January, Trump reportedly used the words “shithole countries” to describe African nations as well as Haiti and El Salvador in Latin America while discussing immigration issues with U.S. lawmakers.

The African Union issued a statement in protest, saying, “While expressing shock, dismay and outrage, the African Union strongly believes there’s a huge misunderstanding of the African continent and its people by the current (U.S.) administration.”

During his visit to Chad, Tillerson is expected to help it to get off the visa sanctions list.

“We also want to give Chad importance because they’re part of the G5 countries,” U.S. officials said on Friday when briefing reporters on Tillerson’s trip. “We’re very high on Africa.”

The G5 Sahel is an African regional security bloc comprising Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger.


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