President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday held bilateral talks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Lancaster House, London, on the margins of the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting in United Kingdom.
During the talks, Prime Minister Trudeau invited President Uhuru Kenyatta to the G7 Summit in Quebec in June, which will focus on climate change, security issues and trade, underscoring Kenya’s role as a key player in the search of stability in the East African region.
The two leaders also reached an agreement for Kenya and Canada to partner on the blue economy and find ways of harnessing ocean resources to support economic growth.
PM Trudeau accepted President Kenyatta’s request for Canada to co-host the Oceans Conference Kenya is hosting in November.
“Our meeting gives us an opportunity to speak about the great relationship between Kenya and Canada. Canada is pleased with the excellent conference on the blue economy you are hosting and is ready to partner with you,” said PM Trudeau.
He said Canada was pleased with Kenya’s offer to organise and host the conference given that there is a renewed focus on oceans and their potential to support economic progress.
Expanding trade with traditional partners like Kenya and similar-minded countries in the 53-member Commonwealth, working together to face emerging security challenges, and seeking to tap and deepen private sector participation in building resilient economies were some of the things the two leaders saw as important to press during the G7 and other summits.
The Group of Seven most industrialised countries comprise the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, France, and Japan. The group’s next summit will be held in Charlevoix, Quebec, in early June. It will be the second G7 summit President Kenyatta will be attending, after last year’s event in Taormina, Italy.
President Kenyatta said there was a need for the international community to unite for the prosperity of the whole world.
“We see this as an important opportunity to entrench the message that we need to continue to do everything in our power to fight poverty. If we don’t fight poverty, it will lead to immigrants from poor countries seeking new pastures in Western countries, with the potential to negatively affect them,” President Kenyatta said.
“We have to work to support growth in developing countries, including working to tap greater private sector investment. Development is critical to securing stability,” President Kenyatta added.
Prime Minister Trudeau said he wanted to see greater and consistent action in fighting the challenges wrought by climate change, and that the world needed to work together to ensure it mitigated the effects of adverse and fast-changing weather patterns.
He was also concerned that militants from terror groups in Yemen and elsewhere had the potential to destabilise more countries in the region.
President Kenyatta said part of the solution lay in allowing African troops under AMISOM to continue to be engaged in Somalia.
‘Now is not the time to pull out,” the President said. “We have to ensure that we are working to secure the region, not to undermine the peace and security.”
East Africa is opposed to proposals by the United Nations to significantly reduce military presence in Somalia when Somali security forces are not yet on their feet.
President Kenyatta is taking part in the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit which wants to reach agreements on how to increase intra-commonwealth trade to the $2 trillion.
The agenda for the Commonwealth leaders includes talks on the promotion of inclusive and sustainable economic growth, supporting small and vulnerable states and recognition of opportunities for economic development from the ocean.
Trade and investment between Kenya and post-Brexit Britain are one of the priority issues on President Kenyatta’s agenda during the summit.
The UK has been a strong trading and diplomatic partner for Kenya. 220 UK companies worth £2.7 billion operate in Kenya and employ 250,000 Kenyans.