UPDATE 1-U.S.'s Tillerson says Kenya should not stifle media, threaten courts

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NAIROBI, March 9 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Friday that he had shared his concerns with Kenya's president about the importance of democracy and said the government should not stifle the media and threaten the courts.

"We believe that there are actions that need to be taken in Kenya and that they need to correct certain actions like shutting down independent TV stations and threatening the independence of the courts," Tillerson told a news conference in the Kenyan capital.

"I know Kenya takes these matters seriously. A free and independent media is essential for safeguarding democracy and giving all Kenyans confidence in their government."

Tillerson, the top U.S. diplomat, called Kenya a "leading democracy in Africa" and praised President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga for meeting on Friday and pledging to bring their people together after last year's contentious and bloody elections.

He said they had shown a commitment to working for all Kenyans, regardless of party, to take "the long journey that is necessary to restore the country, eliminate these divisions that are creating obstacles to Kenya's future."

He said "all the credit" for the meeting went to the Kenyan political leaders, in response to a question as to whether the U.S. had a role in organising it.

(Reporting By Maggie Fick, editing by Larry King)