Kenyan leader to visit Japan to boost ties The three-day visit will be Kenyatta's first to Japan since he was elected president in 2013

President Uhuru Kenyatta

President Uhuru Kenyatta

NAIROBI (AA) – Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will travel to Japan on Wednesday for his first visit as president in hopes of strengthening relations with the economic giant.

“President Kenyatta will lead a delegation to Japan for meetings, including some with the prime minister,” Kenyatta spokesman Manoah Esipisu told reporters at State House.

The three-day visit will be Kenyatta’s first to Japan since he was elected president in 2013.

Esipisu said the total trade volume between the two countries had increased in recent years, having reached some 65 billion shillings (around $711 million) last year.

“The president is keen to cut the trade imbalance that still exists between our two countries,” the spokesman said.

“This will be a matter that he will deal with in his meetings with the prime minister,” he added.

Kenya imports machinery and other mechanical instruments from Japan, while the latter imports agricultural and horticultural products from Kenya.

Esipisu suggested that that, once Japan reviews its development assistance guidelines, Kenya would become a beneficiary of Japanese non-military security projects.

“Japan has set aside $200 million for countries affected by terrorism in the Middle East and Africa. This includes Kenya,” he said.

“The president,” he added, “will consult closely with the prime minister of Japan in these matters [i.e., terrorism] to see what experiences we can share and how both countries can help each other.”

Kenya has in recent years suffered several deadly attacks by Al-Shabaab, a Somali militant group.

In late 2013, heavily-armed gunmen attacked the Westgate shopping mall, which was frequented by wealthy foreign residents, middle-class Kenyans and tourists, taking scores of hostages.

The attack, later claimed by Al-Shabaab, left 67 people, including four hostage-takers, dead.

Al-Shabaab has repeatedly called on the Kenyan government to withdraw troops dispatched to Somalia in 2011.

The demands, however, have been dismissed by Kenyatta, who has said the troops would remain in the Horn of Africa nation.

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