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Nairobi — Kenya and Somalia on Friday agreed to convene Joint Commission for Co-operation (JCC) talks in Mogadishu after the leaders of the two nations ordered the immediate reopening of the Kenya-Somalia border.
The JCC talks to be headed by foreign affairs officials of respective countries in August will seek to revitalize cooperation between the two countries whose relations had strained in recent years over disagreements on several issues including the status of Somaliland, a de facto state in the Horn of Africa seeking international recognition as an independent nation.
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The talks will cover joint security activities, defense, agriculture, trade, intelligence exchange, health, education, training in various fields, and continuous review of the visa regime, a joint communique signed by Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Amb Macharia Kamua and his Somali counterpart Amb Mohamed Ali — Nur Hagi, indicated.
As part of the roadmap to revive cooperation, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Somalian counterpart Hassan Sheikh Mohamud also agreed on the resumption of Kenya Airways flights to Mogadishu under an existing bilateral framework pending review.
“The two Presidents further agreed that the Kenya Airways (KQ) scheduled flights to Mogadishu will resume immediately based on the existing Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA). The BASA will be reviewed by the relevant Authorities,” the communique noted.
The two leaders noted the resumption of flights together with the opening of borders will “ease the movement of people and enhance trade in goods and services.”
The meeting at State House Nairobi further gave a greenlight for immediate market access for fish products from Somalia with Mogadishu reciprocating with resumption of Miraa trade.
Kenya and Somalia also agreed on a framework that will facilitate the issuance of Courtesy Visas free of charge on arrival with holders of diplomatic passports required to complete online applications backed by a Norte Verbale.
“For holders of Somali Service Passports, Courtesy Visas free of charge/gratis on arrival will be issued within Forty – Eight (48) hours, after completion of Online Visa Application accompanied by a Note Verbale from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation,” the communique noted.
Kenyatta and Sheikh Mohamud also agreed on expeditious processing of visas for ordinary passport holders “preferably within ten (10) working days.”
The two Heads of State directed their respective officials to ensure the implementation of all issues agreed upon within two weeks.