President Obama during the GES on 25.07.2015
Kenyans can now enjoy five year visas to the United States up from the previous one year maximum following bilateral talks between the two countries on Saturday.
U.S. President Barack Obama made the announcement after the conclusion of a closed door session with his host President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi.
“We will extend student and business visas for up to five years for Kenyans traveling to the United States and for Americans traveling to Kenya. This will make it easier for students to complete their studies and for businesses to make long-term plans,” said Obama.
Obama also said the two governments are working on commencing direct flights between the U.S. and Kenya.
Noting the potential of the directs flights, President Obama – who shied away from giving definite dates for their commencement – said the route will boost tourism and strengthen trade ties between the two trade partners.
“There are very specific protocols and security issues that have to be worked on before an actual date can be announced. We have sent representatives of our Department of Transportation and Homeland Security to work with your officials. I think real progress has been made,” said Obama.
Travel advisories and political decisions
Responding to the question on whether the U.S. would lift the travel advisories issued against Kenya, Obama was quick to say that he could not influence the process.
“This is not something that I meddle with. This is something that our State Department and our intelligence communities make assessments on. It is not subject to a political decision,” said Obama.
He said the advisories are issued for the benefit of their operatives (diplomats and citizens) in the region, but his government is obliged to share the same information with tourists.
Commenting on insecurity, Obama said that the Al-Shabaab terror threat is often exaggerated by a section of the media. He committed to fighting that perception by visiting the country.