South Korean President Park Geun-hye arrived in Kenya on Monday on the third leg of her swing through Africa meant to boost business opportunities with the continent that has a huge growth potential.
Park was greeted by Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. This marks the first state visit by a South Korean president in 34 years. The two countries established diplomatic ties in 1964 when Park’s late father, Park Chung-hee, and Jomo Kenyatta, late father of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, were both in power.
Park is set to meet with Kenyatta on Tuesday for talks expected to focus on boosting economic ties between the two countries. The trade volume between South Korea and Kenya stood at $284 million in 2015.
“I will discuss ways in detail for cooperation at the summit with President Kenyatta tomorrow,” Park said in a meeting with more than 20 representatives from the Korean community here. Kenya is home to about 1,100 South Koreans.
Park has vowed to renew the friendly bilateral relationship between the two countries to realize the shared vision of ushering in a future of mutual prosperity.
“I hope that our two governments will continue to nurture a mutually beneficial partnership in which we can learn and grow together by organically harmonizing Korea’s experience with Kenya’s potential,” Park said in an opinion piece published in Kenya’s Daily Nation on Monday.
She also said South Korea will become a reliable partner for Kenya’s development, saying “Kenya will be able to make an astonishing leap forward if Korea’s experience and know-how are aptly shared.”
South Korea -- which has become a donor country from a key recipient of U.N. aid in half a century -- has been sharing its development experience with developing nations.
She also told the South Koreans that the two words -- hope and challenge -- came to her mind during her trip to Africa. She said Africa’s hope for a better future and South Korea’s challenge for a stable and peaceful future will bear abundant fruit.
Park flew from Uganda, where she secured Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's public commitment to cut off his country's longstanding security and military cooperation with North Korea.
Uganda's disengagement is the latest increase of international diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang over its defiant pursuit of a nuclear weapons program.
South Korea said Uganda appears to have made a strategic judgment that it should give more weight to substantial cooperation with South Korea rather than military cooperation with North Korea as Uganda pursues a strategy for national development.
The first leg of this trip already saw Park in Ethiopia. (Yonhap)