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Barack Obama in Kenya Posted By: The Times Of Earth (TOE) Fri, 24 Jul, 2015 Viewed By: 4959

US President Barack Obama arrived in Kenya late Friday, his first visit to the country of his father's birth since his election as president.

Air Force One touched down at Nairobi's international airport, AFP reporters said, marking the start of a weekend visit during which the president will address an entrepreneurship summit and hold talks on trade and investment, security and counter-terrorism, and democracy and human rights.

Obama was greeted by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta with a handshake and embrace as he stepped off Air Force One. Obama also hugged his half-sister Auma, who then travelled in the presidential limousine to the hotel where the US leader is staying.

A massive security operation was also under way to protect Obama. Parts of the Kenyan capital Nairobi have been locked down, and airspace closed during the president's arrival late Friday and his departure late Sunday for neighbouring Ethiopia. In the darkness, excited Kenyans lined parts of the route to his hotel, cheering Obama's cavalcade passed by.

During his two-day visit Obama will hold talks with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and other top officials.

Kenya is a vital ally of the West in the battle against the Somali Islamist group al Shabaab, and Obama is likely to focus talks in Nairobi on security cooperation.
 
The al Qaeda-linked group was behind an attack on Nairobi's upscale Westgate shopping center in 2013, killing at least 67 people, as well as an attack in April at a Kenyan university near the Somali border that left 148 people dead.

In Nairobi, Obama will preside at a Global Entrepreneurship Summit, pay tribute to victims and survivors of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombing and dine with Kenyatta, whose indictment by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity largely barred Obama from visiting sooner. Charges have been dropped.

Deputy President William Ruto, still facing similar charges in The Hague-based court, was not at the airport reception ceremony. He denies having had a role in fomenting violence after the disputed 2007 election.

In the year before that vote, Obama visited Kenya when he was still a senator. On this trip as president, he is not expected to travel to the village most closely associated with the family name and where his father is buried.

Obama, the first sitting president to visit Kenya, will hold talks on trade and investment, and also security and counter-terrorism.

He also becomes the first US leader to address the African Union when he travels on to Ethiopia on Sunday.

SOURCE: AFP, REUTERS  and agencies

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