Nairobi — Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Liberman has said his country has confidence with Kenya as a key investment hub in the region.
Liberman said it is for this reason that he is leading a powerful delegation of Israel businessmen who will hold a business forum with their Kenyan counterparts as from Thursday in Nairobi.
He said Israel wants to engage Kenya more in agricultural and irrigation activities and that the 50 Israel companies involved in the forum intend to invest in agriculture, irrigation, green house technology, communication, medicine and homeland security.
Speaking when he held discussions with President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi, on Wednesday, Liberman, who is the Minister for Foreign Affairs, said the challenges and opportunities in Kenya are similar to those in Israel.
He stressed the need for the two countries to enhance the relations for mutual benefit of the citizens.
He said his government will increase security cooperation between the two countries, especially in the sharing of information and technology to provide quicker solutions.
Liberman said in the current world, terror groups are networking and it is only through sharing of information that the two governments will be able to stem the threats.
"We need to reduce bureaucracy on issues of sharing security information, the same terror groups like Hamas, ISIS in Iraq, Boko Haram in West Africa and Al-Shabaab share information and network to cause evil; we therefore don't need too much formal systems which sometimes hinder those involved in responding to security threats," said Liberman.
He said Israel signed two agreements with Kenya on regular consultations between the ministries of foreign affairs and also regarding training of Kenyan paramedics and ambulance services.
President Kenyatta said Israel is a true friend who has always stood with Kenya.
He expressed his gratitude to the Israel Government for showing confidence in the country as the regional investment hub.
"Your presence here at this moment is a strong signal that Israel considers Kenya a strong economy for willing investors. It is a strong signal that you are here to stay. This is the right time to send a very strong message to our enemies," he said.
He said the only way to defeat terrorism is for countries to be firm and to continue supporting one another in security and trade issues.
Said the President: "That is what I have been telling our friends especially from the West. That they don't need to issue any travel advisories to their citizens but rather to encourage them to not only travel but also invest in Kenya".
He added, "We stood with our friends when their embassies were bombed here in Nairobi. Even when they were attacked during the 9/11, we showed solidarity with them".
President Kenyatta said security challenges facing Kenya are as a result of instability in the neighbouring countries, adding "a lot of problems that we face are not Kenyan made but it's because of the neighbourhood that we are living in. Some of them have been unstable for long and some of their citizens have become fanatical. These same individuals have sneaked into our country and began radicalising some of our people."
He said the current terror groups have become technologically savvy hence they network and share information to perpetuate evil.
It is for this reason; the President said, that Governments need to work more closely to tame them.
At the meeting, the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Amina Mohammed said the Israel Deputy Prime Minister will be launching direct flights from Kenya to Israel on Thursday.
He will also be launching the Israel/Kenyan Business forum. Also present was the Israel ambassador to Kenya Gil Haskel.