President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday evening expressed the need for Kenya and the Caribbean island state of Barbados to scale up their bilateral engagement for the mutual benefit of the two countries.
Terming Barbados as a strategic partner for Kenya in the Caribbean, the President said the two developing countries need to work in solidarity in pursuit of closer ties especially with regard to South-South cooperation to cement the relationship that started almost 100 years ago in London when Pan Africanists worked together in the struggle for liberation.
“Barbados is an English speaking country with populations of African heritage. Our similarities are greater than our differences,” President Kenyatta said during a welcome reception hosted by Barbadian Governor General Dame Sandra Mason at the start of his three-day state visit in Barbados.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma and other members of the President’s delegation attended the reception held at the Government House in the Barbadian capital, Bridgetown.
President Kenyatta noted that Kenya’s engagement with its African diaspora has been lacking but expressed confidence that his visit to Barbados at the invitation of Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley will strengthen relations between the two countries.
“It is my belief that this visit will lead to stronger links and bonds of friendship between our two countries as well as the people of the wider Caribbean region and the African continent,” President Kenyatta said.
The Barbadian Governor General said President Kenyatta’s visit was a testimony of the friendly relations between Kenya and Barbados and demonstrated the importance the two countries attached to that relationship.
“Our relationship was established on the basis of mutual understanding, respect and dignity. Following this visit, I believe that our strengthened relationship will be expressed at a new level of interaction and cooperation,” she said.
The Governor General pointed out that Kenya and Barbados share similar views on major issues such as efforts to address climate change and the recognition of the importance of sustainable development of the blue economy.
Earlier when he arrived in Barbados, President Kenyatta was accorded full state welcoming honours complete with a 21-gun salute.
The President, accompanied by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, were received at the Grantley Adams International Airport in Bridgetown by Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley where the elaborate state reception took place.
The firing of 21 cannons was preceded by the national anthems of Kenya and Barbados before President Kenyatta inspected a guard of honour mounted by a detachment of the Barbados Defence Force.
During the visit, President Kenyatta will lead the Kenyan delegation at bilateral talks with Prime Minister Mottley and her delegation that will culminated in the signing of bilateral agreements to bolster cooperation between Kenya and Barbados.
“I look forward to engage with Prime Minister Mottley to discuss various issues of mutual interest pertaining to better connectivity between the Caribbean and the African continent, increasing trade between our two regions, matters of cultural exchange and how we can market the beautiful product (sandy beaches) that God has given us both in the Caribbean and the African continent,” the President said.
The President’s arrival in Barbados marks the second and last leg of his Caribbean visit that started in Jamaica where he witnessed the signing of four agreements to deepen bilateral and people-to-people ties for the benefit of the two countries.
While in Barbados, President Kenyatta will meet with some visiting Caribbean leaders and attend a business forum that is designed to sensitize the business communities from both countries on the investment and trade opportunities in Barbados and Kenya.