Kenya and Somalia, long opposed by a dispute over the demarcation of their maritime border, have agreed to « normalize » their relations and resume issuing visas to citizens of the other country.
The agreement was announced on the evening of Thursday by the Kenyan presidency after a meeting in Nairobi between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Somali counterpart, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.
The two leaders « reaffirmed the invaluable relationship between Kenya and Somalia and agreed to explore ways to strengthen (their) bilateral and diplomatic ties, » according to a statement from the Kenyan presidency.
Mr. Kenyatta’s services posted on the President’s Twitter account photos of the Kenyan President and Mr. Mohamed, better known by the nickname « Farmajo », shaking hands with a smile.
This statement does not mention the dispute between Kenya and Somalia over the ownership of vast maritime areas of more than 100,000 square kilometers, rich in gas and oil.
Recourse to the ICJ
Somalia appealed to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the main judicial organ of the United Nations, which declared itself competent in February.
Nairobi has already granted three oil exploitation permits to the Italian company ENI SpA in the disputed area by Mogadishu.
According to Somalia, located in north-eastern Kenya, the maritime boundary is expected to stretch south-east along a median line between the two countries.
In contrast, Nairobi claims for delimitation a straight line from the land border between the two countries to the East and recalls that he exercises sovereignty over the disputed area since 1979, when he proclaimed the limits of his zone exclusive economic
In February, Somalia accused Kenya of auctioning oil and gas fields in the disputed sea area. Nairobi responded by recalling his ambassador to Somalia.
In May, Somalia was also concerned about the difficulties faced by some of its ministers and parliamentarians in entering Kenya, even though they held diplomatic passports.