Nairobi, July 11 (IANS) India and Kenya on Monday agreed to boost cooperation in the defence and health care sectors as Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the east African country as a “valued friend”.
“While we are conscious of our development challenges, (Kenyan) President (Uhuru Kenyatta) and I also share concerns of security and stability,” Modi said in a joint press statement with Kenyatta following delegation-level talks here.
Following the talks, India and Kenya signed seven agreements, including a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on defence cooperation.
The Prime Minister said that as India and Kenya are connected by the Indian Ocean, both have strong maritime traditions.
“As such, our closer cooperation in the field of maritime security occupies an important place in our overall defence and security engagement,” he said .
“The MoU on defence cooperation signed just now would strengthen our institutional cooperation between our defence establishments.”
Modi said that he and Kenyatta recognised that terrorism and the rapid spread of radical ideologies posed a common challenge to the people of both countries, to the region and to the whole world.
“We have agreed to deepen our security partnership including in the fields of cyber security, combating drugs and narcotics, and human trafficking,” he said.
Kenya has been a frequent target of terrorism, especially of the Al Shabab terror outfit from across the border in Somalia.
Modi also flagged health care as another key area of cooperation between the two countries.
“I understand that health care is President Uhuru’s key priority,” he said.
“India’s strength, especially in pharmaceuticals, can join hands with your priorities to shape an affordable and efficient health care system in Kenya,” he said, adding that this would make Kenya a regional medical hub.
He also said that India would soon hand over a Bhabhatron, a state-of-the-art made in India cancer therapy machine, to the Kenyatta National Hospital.
“Kenya is a valued friend and trusted partner of India,” Modi said.
He said the historical people-to-people ties between the two countries have provided a strong basis for a wide-ranging partnership which extended “from agriculture and health to developmental assistance, from trade and commerce to investment, from closer contact between our people to capacity building, from regular political consultations to defence and security cooperation”.
The Prime Minister said India was ready to share its development experiences and expertise, and concessional credit and capacities to assist in Kenya’s development objectives.
Among the agreements signed on Monday, two pertained to lines of credit from India to Kenya — one on development of various small and medium enterprises and the other on upgrading a textile factory.
“We look forward to early implementation of the Indian lines of credit for projects in agricultural mechanisation, textiles and the development of the small and medium sector,” Modi said.
Modi said the economies of both countries would benefit by “further expansion of investment ties, a more diversified trade basket and nurturing greater intensity of commercial links”.
On his part, Kenyatta said that both sides broached a whole number of critical issues in Monday’s talks.
India would also help set up a pharmaceutical company in Kenya to manufacture life-saving drugs, he said.
“We are keen in exploiting ties in sports also — India in terms of cricket, Kenya in terms of athletics,” Kenyatta said.
Earlier on Monday, Modi laid a wreath at the mausoleum of Kenya’s first President Jomo Kenyatta.
Modi arrived in Kenya from Tanzania on Sunday on the final leg of his four-nation Africa tour.
Soon after his arrival here, he addressed an Indian diaspora rally that was attended by over 20,000 people.
Kenya is home to around 80,000 people of Indian origin.
This is the first prime ministerial visit from India to Kenya in 35 years after the visit of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1981.
Apart from Kenya and Tanzania, Modi’s five-day trip to Africa also took him to Mozambique and South Africa.