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Kenyan Foreign Minister Shed Light on U.S.-Kenya Piracy Agreement

Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula has been giving details about an agreement between his country and the United States for Kenya to detain and prosecute pirates captured by the U.S. military off the coast of Somalia.

He told VOA that while Kenya is committed to combating piracy in the Horn of Africa, the agreement does not mean that Kenya would be a dumping ground for all captured pirates.

"We have signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. and UK (United Kingdom) where in practical situations pirates captured at the Indian Ocean shipping line area can be tried in Kenyan courts. But it would be dealt with on a case by case basis. It is not an open door for dumping pirates onto Kenya soil because it will not be acceptable. We have a bill in parliament that is coming up and it is going to strengthen the punishment against piracy, from the current legal provision of 10 years in jail to life imprisonment. And I believe it will provide some form of deterrence," he said.

Foreign Minister Wetangula praised U.S. President Barack Obama for his decision to close down the U.S. terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where a Kenyan, Abdulmalik Mohamed is among the detainees.

"I want take the opportunity to congratulate President Obama because the Guantanamo Bay saga has brought blood on the image of your country, and I think that he should do the same with Abu Ghraib (prison in Iraq). I don't know if it is still open. You know the images from Abu Ghraib were horrendous. So we hope that the fresh air that is being felt all around and the feel good factor that President Obama has brought to the world stage will be sustainable so that we get a better world to live in," Wetangula said.

The Kenyan foreign minister hope President Obama would said the United States should take the lead in world development by reducing armed conflicts around the world.

"I think America must take the lead to reduce international armed conflicts so that the trillions of dollars that are spent on a daily basis on armament and armed conflicts can be diverted to human development. That way we will be able to wipe out poverty overnight. And I hope President Obama will take the lead in not only ending the war in Iraq and Afghanistan but showing the way that conflicts anywhere in the world are unacceptable because they don't help the cause of humanity," he said.

Wetangula said Kenya, which has played host to a number of negotiations aimed at forming a government in Somalia said Kenya was still committed to bringing about peace in Somalia.

"The situation in Somalia is very volatile; Ethiopia has completely withdrawn; the U.N. is still dragging its feet in helping us put together troops for Somalia. We (the Inter-governmental Authority on Development, IGAD) in Addis from tomorrow, and the issue of Somalia will take center stage. Kenya like all other members of IGAD states is committed to bringing normalcy and peace and security to Somalia. It's not easy. Somalia is a failed state for the last 20 years," Wetangula said.