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'East vs West divide is untenable' Kenyan president says

Strasbourg, France, Nov 21 (AFP) Nov 21, 2023
Adversarial relations pitting the West against Russia and China are undermining global unity on big challenges, especially climate change, Kenya's President William Ruto warned on Tuesday.

"The East versus West divide is untenable and counterproductive, working against the interests of all of us," he told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

"Climate change has introduced a new dimension into this complex equation," he said.

In a speech, Ruto highlighted conflicts in Africa, the Middle East and Europe that are roiling international ties, and overshadowing development and financing challenges faced by African nations.

Africa is one of the regions where Western and Russian envoys are presenting duelling narratives over Moscow's war in Ukraine.

A harder Western line against China, spearheaded by Washington, is also being felt on a continent with broad Chinese investment and strong trade and historical ties to Europe.

Ruto said the geopolitical buffeting was making it more difficult to navigate an interconnected "storm of challenges".

Amid that, climate change has emerged "as a levelling force" that was "transcending all divides -- north-south, east-west, developed or developing".

With the United Nations COP28 climate summit in Dubai starting in just over a week, he stressed that Africa was "at the forefront of environmental vulnerability".

Kenya and other countries in the region deserved access to less expensive credit to move away from reliance on fossil fuels, he said.

"While the global narrative often emphasises energy transition, for most of Africa it is about energy growth, energy expansion and energy access," he said.

He urged the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development "to play a bigger role in Kenya and on the continent".

Ruto added that "one of the biggest contributions that the EU can make to both addressing poverty in Africa and achieving global climate goals is through its demand for products and services, including full carbon credits".


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