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Uhuru welcomed on China visit

19 August 2013, 17:07

Beijing -  President Uhuru Kenyatta, who faces trial on charges of crimes against humanity, was welcomed to China on Monday with a 21-gun salute and a meeting with President Xi Jinping.

The president met Xi following an elaborate ceremony outside Beijing's ornate Great Hall of the People.

China's influence in Africa -- where critics say it ignores human rights issues -- has risen along with its global clout. The continent has become a key supplier of natural resources, helping fuel the Asian giant's rise to become the world's number two economy.

Xi, who made the continent part of his first foreign trip after taking office as head of state earlier this year, congratulated Kenyatta on his election victory.

"I believe, given your vigour and vitality, you should be able to lead the Kenyan people in registering even greater accomplishments on the road ahead towards your national development," Xi said.

Kenyatta noted that Kenya was celebrating the 50th anniversary of its independence this year.

"During that eventful period, China and her people supported us in our quest for freedom, as it did many other liberation movements in Africa," he said.

Xi lauded China's historical ties with Kenya, specifically mentioning the 15th century voyages of Chinese Muslim admiral Zheng He who led expeditions to the east African coast.

"And on your side, the Malindi region, also sent envoys to China, even sending giraffes as gifts," Xi said. "All these are much told stories in the annals of our friendship and exchanges."

The two sides signed six agreements, including memorandums of understanding on trade and economic cooperation and on a railway from Mombasa to Nairobi, but gave no details.

In an interview with China's official Xinhua news agency published Saturday, Kenyatta expressed hope that his visit would promote infrastructure, manufacturing, technology and tourism development in Kenya.

Citing numbers provided by China's embassy in Nairobi, Xinhua said China is the East African nation's second-largest trade partner, with bilateral trade at $2.84 billion.


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