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US Makes No Promises To Kenya For More Money To Combat Terrorism - 2003-05-29

A top Kenyan official, just back in Nairobi after talks with U-S officials in Washington, says he was unable to get any promises of additional U-S monetary assistance in Kenya's fight against terrorism.

Kenya's trade and industry minister, Mukhisa Kituyi, says he presented Kenya's case for more financial assistance from the United States during a meeting Wednesday with U-S Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner.

In an interview with V-O-A, Mr. Kituyi says he told the U-S official that Kenya needed the extra money to soften the impact the on-going terror threat is having on the country's fragile economy. But Mr. Kituyi stresses that Kenya is not demanding money from the United States.

He says, "We cannot ask for compensation as if we are saying, "you owe us this." A compensation is something you demand. Our position has been that we look at the solidarity in the wake of the terrorist problem, which are occasioned by our friendship with America, and this does not have to be seen in terms of being a compensation."

Kenya's economy depends heavily on tourism revenue, contributing as much as 11 percent to the country's treasury annually, and that revenue is immediately affected whenever there is a threat of terrorism. The government estimates that since new terror warnings for east Africa were issued a little more than two weeks ago, its tourism sector has lost about 14-million dollars in revenue.

The warnings came following reports that a suspected member of the al-Qaida terrorist organization, which is believed to have planned the 1998 bombing of the U-S Embassy in Nairobi and the attack on an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa last November, had slipped back into Kenya from neighboring Somalia. A number of countries, including the United States and Great Britain, have urged their citizens not to travel to Kenya. British Airways has suspended its flights to Nairobi indefinitely.

A State Department spokesperson told reporters Wednesday that while the United States is sympathetic to the economic problems facing Kenya because of the terrorist threat, it is not in a position to compensate Kenya for specific losses.

The spokesperson says the United States is, however, committed to helping Kenya fund projects to create jobs, improve health care, and combat terrorism in the country.

The United States currently provides about 560-million dollars a year in aid to Kenya and the State Department says that amount is likely to increase as the Kenyan government strengthens anti-corruption measures.