A day after Kenya’s president made a rare speech in which he praised the country’s independence and criticized the West, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s first foreign trip was marked by a high-profile trip to Europe.
Kenya’s foreign minister, Mwai Kibaki, and his deputy, Abba Mba, were also on the trip, which also included a stop in the German capital of Berlin, which was the first European city visited by a sitting African leader.
The trip came as Kenyans leaders sought to reassure their African counterparts that they are taking steps to rebuild trust with the European Union, whose aid and economic assistance the country has been under fire for lagging behind in rebuilding its economy.
At the start of his trip, Kenyatt visited the German embassy in Kenya’s capital, Addis Ababa, where he met with the head of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, and other senior EU officials, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who visited Kenya on Wednesday.
In a statement released late Thursday, Barrose said the meeting was “positive” and called the visit “a good sign of the continued strengthening of cooperation between the EU and Kenya.”
“We welcome President Kenyata’s visit to Addis, where we also discussed the bilateral cooperation in the fields of human rights, economic development and security,” the statement said.
The EU, the U.K., the U, Australia, Japan and France have been the most outspoken critics of Kenya’s record on the continent.
Kenyatts government has repeatedly criticized the EU for its perceived failure to provide aid to the country and its poor citizens, who face a dire humanitarian crisis.
Kenyatt and Barross said they wanted to “continue the dialogue” between the European and Kenyan leaders, and stressed that they wanted a strong African economy.
But Kenyats critics have accused him of seeking a new political order in the country, a move that could be seen as a bid to sideline the countrys former ruling party and restore his support from African voters.
Kenyan voters overwhelmingly backed a pro-European government in a 2014 election that saw the country become the first African country to become a member of the EU.
The West African country, which is a member the European Economic Area, has struggled to secure financial aid for its poor population, a group that has been left behind by global economic change.
Ken Yacoub, the president’s former foreign minister and head of Kenya-based political party, said in a statement after the visit that Kenyatas economic policies have not been inclusive and “we cannot allow our country to be the exception.”
“I urge the European Council to continue its constructive and inclusive cooperation with the country,” he said.
“We are grateful for the strong relationship and cooperation that has existed between us.”
He also said that the visit was an “important step” in Kenya seeking to restore its ties with the EU, which are “not as strong as they used to be” and have deteriorated in recent years.
“We are working to build a more inclusive economy, a more prosperous and prosperous country, and we need to strengthen our relationships with our European partners,” Yacob said.
Kenys economy is suffering from a lack of foreign direct investment, which has been a problem for Kenyathas government since the country joined the EU in 2014.
Ken Yacobs administration has been criticized for not providing a comprehensive strategy to help improve Kenya’s economy.
The countrys economy has also lagged behind other West African countries.
Kenya’s economic growth has slowed to less than 4% a year in the last two years, and the number of Kenyawas citizens in poverty reached a record high of 40.8% in 2016.
The U.S. government has said it is looking into the possibility of providing financial aid to Kenya, but U.N. officials have said that Kenya has not yet come up with an appropriate proposal.
The European Union has welcomed the European trip and said that it will continue to work with Kenya on a broad range of issues, including trade, the economy, energy security and the fight against terrorism.
“The EU remains committed to supporting the African Union and other African leaders to build on the progress made in 2016 to build up a new, prosperous and sustainable African Union,” the European Parliament said in an official statement.
Kenyeas foreign minister said the EU is committed to helping Kenya develop its economy and strengthen its democracy, and that the EU will continue its close cooperation with Kenya and its European partners.
“We want to continue to strengthen the relationship with the African community,” Mba said.