by Njoroge Kaburo
NAIROBI, July 10 (Xinhua) -- Kenya has called on South Korea to back regional peace initiatives in efforts to restore normalcy in Somalia and the Sudans and the entire East Africa region.
Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who hosted his South Korean counterpart Kim Hwang-sik to a dinner party on Monday night, said the three regional countries were important in securing peace in the region.
"We call upon South Korea to be steadfast in support for reconstruction in Somalia and demanding stability and peace in the Sudans," Odinga said when he hosted a dinner to the visiting South Korean prime minister.
According to the United Nations, South Sudan is still dealing with unsettled issues ranging from its separation from Sudan as well as other problems as ethnic violence, humanitarian displacement, border demarcation, economic growth and import of raids by the notorious rebel group, Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).
South Sudan became the world's newest country on July 9, 2011 after a culmination of a 6-year peace process brokered in Kenya in 2005 which helped bring an end to the 24-year conflict between the north and south.
But Odinga urged Kim to help in the establishment of a legitimate state in war-wracked Somalia to contain escalating insecurity threats posed by al Qaida allied Al-Shabaab and pirates roaming in the Horn of Africa coast.
Somalia has been undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process for decades with the country's Transitional Federal Institutions currently implementing the so-called "Roadmap Process" for the end of Transition in Somalia, devised in September 2011 that spells out priority measures to be carried out before the current transitional governing arrangements which end on Aug. 20.
The Kenyan PM called for the need for the two countries to strengthen their relations on security to detect and avert any threats posed by terrorists and piracy which is rampant off the coast of Somalia.
He said cooperation between the two countries was of mutual benefit to both parties.
He said the East African nation has a lot to share and learn from the economic miracle that propelled South Korea into an industrialized nation.
"(South) Korea is well known for transforming the lives of its people through very revolutionary rural sector agrarian policies that put the country on the path to self sufficiency in food and other areas," he said.
The East African nation is seeking to increase exports of agricultural products to the Asian nation as it strives to buy manufactured products from the latter.
"We will be able to buy more of your Hyundai's and KIA's and Samsung while you buy our tea, beef and coffee," Odinga said.
The Kenyan government on Monday called on the South Korean government to invest in key regional infrastructure project that will link the east African nation's northern region to South Sudan and Ethiopia.
President Mwai Kibaki who held talks in Nairobi with Kim called on the government of South Korea to invest in the multi-billion Lamu Port and the Lamu-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport corridor (LAPSSET).
"The entire project will include development of railways, highways and pipelines to interconnect our trading neighbors, Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia and South Sudan," Kibaki said.
The new transport corridor, whose main works is expected to take up to 30 years to be fully completed, is expected to increase Kenya's economic growth rate from about 6 percent to over 10 percent.
The entire project is estimated to cost 24 billion U.S. dollars. The Lamu Port and the Lamu-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport corridor is one of the key flagship projects of Kenya's Vision 2030.