23 October 2011

Kenya: Envoy Pledges U.S. Support for Kenyan Forces

A fresh attack by a US Unmanned Aerial Vehicle is reported to have killed at least 44 people and injured 63 others in southern Somalia. ... ( Resource: Kenyan Troops Approach Bur Gavo )

The United States on Sunday declared its readiness to provide technical support for Kenya's troops in Somalia.

The country's ambassador to Kenya, Mr Scott Gration, said although Washington would not send its troops to Somalia, it would go out of its way to help Kenya to restore its territorial integrity.

The diplomat was speaking in Lamu during a meeting with private investors and hoteliers hosted by Tourism minister Najib Balala.

Mr Gration, a retired major, said the US respected Kenya's decision to go into Somalia to rout out Al-Shabaab militants.

"We respect the right of a nation to take any decision to defend its borders as per article 51 of the UN charter on self defence and pursuit of hostile elements across international borders," he said.

He observed that the abduction of British tourist Judith Tebbutt and French woman Marie Dediue had adversely affected the Kenyan economy.

But he assured Kenyans that America would stand with them to ensure security was restored.

The envoy said some of security concerns in Kenya could not be tackled overnight, adding that the US was considering providing short- and long-term support to the government.

"Some of these problems can not be solved overnight. It is real there are challenges and Kenya needs to review its strategy. We will see what to do through our mutual relations," he added.

Heightened security

Mr Gration also said the US Government was content with the heightened security measures taken by the Kenyan authorities to avert terror attacks.

He hinted that the US would review travel advisories issued to citizens against visiting Kenya.

"We are in the process of reviewing travel advisories. The big review will be announced on November 1. The work by police, military and Kenya Wildlife Service officers is very positive. There is tremendous progress in terms of security measures put in place around this beautiful place (Lamu)," he said.

Mr Balala appealed to the Africa Union to fast-track reporting the Al-Shabaab provocation to the UN Security Council.

The minister said the group's activities had adversely affected the country's economy and brought tourism in areas like Lamu on its knees.

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