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Third meet for Kenyatta, Macron as France courts east Africa

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Gonzalo Fuentes/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Economic cooperation

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is in Paris for a meeting with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.

Thursday's meeting is the third by the two leaders in three years.

Kenyatta was also a guest at an international forum on gender equality hosted by Macron on Wednesday.

"Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation and turned Gender-Based Violence into a global emergency. Emerging data indicates a surge of at least 25% in violence against women around the world," President Kenyatta said, according to a press release issued by the presidency.

"Kenya has made significant progress in addressing Gender-Based Violence. I have made a personal commitment to end Female Genital Mutilation during my tenure and to end all forms of Gender-Based Violence by 2030 as envisioned in the Sustainable Development Goals," he said.

Paris is working to increase its presence in eastern Africa as its dominance over West and Central Africa comes under competition from Russia, China, Turkey, and Gulf powers.

On a trip to France last October, Kenyatta pushed for French investment in his country, east Africa's largest economy.

Last year, Kenya awarded a $1.5 billion contract to a French consortium to build a 233-kilometer highway linking the capital Nairobi and Mau summit. The project has not yet kicked off.

Worries over the country's increasing debt have dented President Kenyatta's infrastructure ambitions.