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Britain: More cooperation could help ease Kenya travel advisory

20 March 2015, 09:16

Nairobi - Britain's foreign minister said on Thursday he hoped for more security cooperation with Kenya, which could lead to a review of a travel advisory that Kenyan officials and hoteliers complain has hurt the vital tourist industry.

Several Western nations have cautioned their citizens about travel in Kenya following a series Islamist militant attacks last year in the capital Nairobi and on the coast.

Britain's advisory specifically warns against travel to some coastal areas and regions near the border with war-torn Somalia.

Diplomats say advisories are based on information about any specific threat and a nation's ability to counter such threats. As well as noting some shortcomings in Kenya's security forces, they say security information is not always adequately shared.

Asked about Britain's advisory, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told a business meeting in Nairobi that closer cooperation with Kenyan security agencies would help Britain better understand the threats and how they can be countered.

"I very much hope that that will allow us to look again at our travel advice in a new light when we have all that information and all that transparency available to us," he said, without offering details.

Also read: UK issues Kenya travel advice update

Britain already provides training and support to Kenya's security forces. Other Western states, such as the United States which has also issued a travel advisory, offer similar support.

Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed told the Nairobi meeting that the issue of the advisory had been raised in talks with her counterpart and that she hoped "with full information, with additional cooperation" a review would take place soon.

In 2013, gunmen from the Somali militants group al Shabaab launched at attack on Nairobi's Westgate shopping centre that left 67 dead. The group has also carried out attacks since then on the coast and along the Somali border, killing scores.

Kenya, which offers palm-fringed beaches and safaris, has long relied on tourist dollars as a valuable source of foreign exchange. The downturn in visitors has put pressure on the shilling and forced some hotels out of business.

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- Reuters


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