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US Moves to Calm Diplomatic Dispute with Kenya

Diplomacy between Kenya and the United States has hit some rough spots since a New York meeting last week between President Bush and Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete.

According to US Director for African Affairs, Cindy Courville, the two presidents expressed concerns to make sure democracy is moving forward in Kenya. No explanation was given for why US concerns about Kenya were being discussed with the leader of a neighboring country, especially since Kenya had sent a delegation to the same New York meeting .

On Monday, African Affairs Director Courville is reported to have said that topics during the Bush-Kikwete discussion included political instability in Kenya. This raised eyebrows among officials in Nairobi. Foreign Affairs Assistant Minister Moses Wetang’ula vowed to protest what he called “this strange, baffling and offensive affront to the dignity and sovereignty of the Kenyan people."

The Editorial Director of Nairobi radio station Citizen –FM, Herman Igambi told VOA English to Africa reporter Howard Lesser that he watched US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger tell reporters Thursday night on Kenyan television that he believes the Courville comments were taken out of context. Igambi quotes Ambassador Ranneberger as saying that he needs more time to get further clarification on Washington’s view of the meeting.

“All he was saying is that he really has no details of what President Bush and President Kikwete discussed, so maybe tomorrow, there might be some comments toward a settlement. He already said that he will be waiting for more information from Washington to know exactly what the context of the discussion was and that as far as he was concerned, relations between Kenya and the United States (US) are quite good," says Herman Igambi.

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