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Come In, Khat! - Mogadishu

FILE: A khat farmer packs his crop at a collection point near his plantation in Maua, near Meru, eastern Kenya August 20, 2014.

Somalia has agreed to lift a two-year ban on air shipments of khat from Kenya as part of a new trade deal, a Kenyan minister announced Friday, a further sign of rekindled ties after several years of tensions.

Kenyan Agriculture Minister Peter Munya has announced that Nairobi would resume exports of khat or miraa, a mildly narcotic leaf popular in Somalia, while its Indian Ocean neighbor was looking to sell fish and other products to Kenya.

He said the agreements would be signed within two weeks.

The move comes after Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta attended the inauguration of Somalia's newly elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on June 9, signaling a shift away from the frosty relations under the previous government in Mogadishu.

The khat air shipment banm, imposed in March 2020, led to a loss of more than 50 tons of Kenyan khat a day valued at around six million shillings ($50,000), according to Kimathi Munjuri, chairman of the Nyambene Miraa Traders Association in central Kenya.

The two countries will also complete an aviation agreement, Munya said.

Somalia severed diplomatic ties with Kenya in December 2020 after Nairobi hosted the political leadership of Somaliland, a breakaway region not recognized by the central government in Mogadishu.

They agreed to reset relations when Somalia's Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble held talks with Kenyatta in August 2021.

But the two nations had yet another issue of dispute - Kenya and Somalia have been locked in a dispute for years over a potentially oil-and-gas rich chunk of the Indian Ocean.

In October 2021, the UN's top court handed control of most of the area to Somalia but Kenya rejected the ruling.

Despite that, at the June 9 inauguration of President Mohamud, his Kenyan counterpart said ""A peaceful and prosperous Federal Republic of Somalia is the dream of every Kenyan."

Kenyatta added "Your brothers and sisters in Kenya look forward to working with you so that we can all benefit economically and prosper together."