UK Minister Bolsters Defence Bonds with Kenya, Somalia

The UK's Minister for the Armed Forces has concluded a visit to Somalia and Kenya, meeting senior leaders and defence officials for discussions on strengthening regional defence cooperation and observing exercising troops.

Visiting Mogadishu, the Armed Forces Minister met with Somali President His Excellency Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, to reaffirm the UK's commitment to supporting Somalia's long-term security. He also visited British soldiers delivering training to the Somali Security Forces and discussed the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) with the UN Special Representative to the Secretary General. ATMIS has supported the drawdown of African Union peacekeeping operations in Somalia, to transition to the Somali national armed forces.

The UK has been working closely with the Federal Government of Somalia in its efforts to counter the extremist group al-Shabaab and the Minister reiterated the UK's enduring support to tackling the threat posed by the group.

The Minister continued his visit by conducting meetings in Kenya, including with Cabinet Secretary for Defence Aden Duale. They discussed an ambitious vision for strengthening the defence partnership, enhancing Kenyan military capacity and promoting regional peace through the UK and Kenya's Defence Cooperation Agreement.

Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey, said:

Our defence relationships in Africa are paramount to supporting the security and safety of the region. In a more dangerous world, it is critical we support our partners in developing their capabilities, through training and engagement between our armed forces, in order to respond to threats.

In my meetings with the President of Somalia and Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Defence, I emphasised the UK's enduring interest in deepening our defence relationships and discussed ways in which we can deepen our support.

Jointly with the US and Kenya, the UK also supports the development and operation of the Counter Insurgency Counter Terrorism and Stabilisation Operations Centre project (CITSO), which is due to commence delivery of training later this year. The Minister visited the project, which will build on international efforts to improve regional security, through a multi-agency approach to joint training.

Minister Heappey also attended a US-led and UK supported regional training exercise including troops from across East Africa conducting readiness training and preparing for regional and international missions. He also visited a joint training exercise between UK trained Kenya Marines and the Royal Marines.

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