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United Kingdom, Kenya renew military training pact

By Geoffrey Mosoku | May 4th 2015
Christian Turner

Kenya and the United Kingdom (UK) have renewed an agreement to allow British troops train in the country. UK High Commissioner Christian Turner [pictured] revealed last week that London and Nairobi have agreed to extend an existing memorandum of understanding by six months.

The two countries had been entangled in a diplomatic row after Kenya refused to renew the agreement that expired last month apparently to express displeasure over constant travel advisories by the UK.

The deal allowed about 10,000 UK soldiers under British Army Training Unit in Kenya (Batuk) to conduct military exercises locally.

"The UK and Kenya are continuing constructive negotiations on a new Defence Cooperation Agreement. We share a strong interest in working together to achieve a successful outcome. Both governments have therefore agreed to extend the current MoU for six months from April 21," Dr Turner said.

Kenya had also refused to extend the agreement following claims the UK soldiers enjoy diplomatic immunity and cannot be prosecuted should they commit crimes in Kenya. But appearing on KTN's Jeff Koinage Live last Thursday, the envoy rubbished the claims saying they were far-fetched.

"UK troops have never had legal immunity in Kenya, nor would we wish them to. British soldiers have always been accountable for any crimes committed in Kenya, under Kenyan or UK law, and this will remain the case," he said.

Diplomatic relations between Kenya and some Western nations have on numerous occasions appeared to be strained due to travel advisories by the countries to their citizens.

But Dr Turner insisted the UK government has a responsibility to warn their citizens of any potential security threats, adding that the travel advisories are usually based on an objective assessment of the security situation in country.

He said the travel advisories are usually not blanket bans, as the citizens are only advised to avoid specific places during their visits.

"The rules governing UK travel advice are the same across the world. We have advisories against other countries with whom we are close friends: India, Thailand, Egypt, Tunisia to name but a few. We even made changes to our travel advice pages for France in the wake of the 'Charlie Hebdo' shootings in Paris last year and for Canada and Denmark following terrorist incidents there," he said.

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