KENYA: Iran signs deal to supply crude oil

Iran will supply Kenya with four million metric tonnes of crude annually, as part of a range of deals signed last week, officials said on Tuesday.

The agreed supply from Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil exporter, is roughly equivalent to 80,000 barrels per day (bpd) by Reuters calculations.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited East Africa's biggest economy last week, where he and his Kenyan counterpart, Mwai Kibaki, also signed a grant and loan agreement totalling 800 million shillings ($10 million), among others.

Not alarmed

Kenya, like other African countries, is increasingly turning east and strengthening trade and investment links with countries such as China and India.

Commercial dealings with Iran have not been welcomed by the US, which is embroiled in a row with the Islamic Republic over its disputed nuclear programme.

But US Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger was quoted by local media last week as saying his country was not alarmed by the Iranian leader's visit, as the two countries were sovereign and free to make bilateral deals.

"Iran is interested in getting its companies to construct our roads. They would also like to sell us fertilisers and pharmaceutical products," said Mr Kiboi Waituru, the head of Public Affairs at Kenya's Foreign Ministry.

Energy sector

"They view Kenya as a gateway into Africa, a launch pad to get into east Africa," Waituru told Reuters.

Iran also agreed to help construct dams in the East African nation and buy more Kenyan tea.

Iran is under US and United Nations sanctions for nuclear work the West suspects is aimed at making bombs, a charge Tehran denies, and it has increasingly turned to Asia for partners in its energy sector.

In a change of policy from the Bush administration, US President Barack Obama has said he would be open to engaging with Iran on a range of issues, from its nuclear ambitions to how it could help in Afghanistan.

But the new US administration has also threatened to increase pressure on Iran, via more sanctions, if Tehran does not co-operate and give up its sensitive nuclear work.

The Standard

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