US Secretary of State Tillerson arrives in Kenya for visit

Saul Bowman
March 10, 2018

Tillerson said the Trump administration supports the African Union's steps to boost trade deals.

This week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson departs on a weeklong trip to Africa with stops in Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nigeria. "We are not in any way attempting to keep Chinese dollars from Africa", Tillerson told a news conference in the Ethiopian capital. Trump later denied making the comment. Tillerson is also touring African countries in what is his first visit to the continent as US Secretary of State. "It is useful for both parties, whether in the area of trade or investment, or whether it is peace and stability in Africa".

"Africans are mature enough to engage in partnerships of their own volition", he said.

"So there is no monopoly".

His plane touched down at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport shortly after 4.30pm, and was received by Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma and US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec.

"There is no question about U.S. commitment to Kenya on trade and security", Tillerson said during a meeting at State House, Nairobi.

"The President himself wrote a personal letter to the chairperson, reaffirming the importance of this relationship from the standpoint of all aspects that I covered in answering a previous question", he said.

Tillerson said that African countries should be careful not to forfeit their sovereignty when they accept loans from China, the continent's biggest trading partner. "They are badly needed".

The growing Chinese lending to the continent has also attracted criticism from some Africans, who say China's agenda is to feed its appetite for African raw materials like oil, timber and minerals, and secure contracts for its firms.

Tillerson, the top US diplomat, praised Kenyatta and opposition leader Odinga for meeting on Friday and pledging to bring their people together after last year's contentious and bloody elections. "However, we think it's important that African countries carefully consider the terms of those investments". He said he would pay his respects on Saturday in Nairobi to victims of the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

With direct flights between Kenya and the United States commencing this October, President Kenyatta expressed optimism that there will be an exponential increase in the number of American tourists, business people and students, taking advantage of world-renowned tourism products and growing trade and investment opportunities in Kenya.

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