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Biden to welcome Kenyatta as first African leader to visit

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Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta, seen in September 2021, will be the first African leader to visit the White House under President Joe Biden./AFP
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Oct 13, 2021 - 09:40 AM

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden will welcome Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday, in the first visit by an African leader to the White House during his presidency.

The summit will be part of “Biden’s commitment to the US partnership with Africa based on principles of mutual respect and equality,” a White House statement said Tuesday.

It said Biden and Kenyatta would discuss “the need to bring transparency and accountability to domestic and international financial systems,” amid a push by the Biden administration to fight both corruption and inequities overseas.

The two will also “discuss efforts to defend democracy and human rights, advance peace and security, accelerate economic growth and tackle climate change,” the White House said.

Biden has vowed to promote democracy overseas. Once-stable Kenya saw deadly political violence after 2017 elections, but Kenyatta has since made up with his former rival Raila Odinga.

Biden took office vowing a new commitment to Africa after the disinterest of his predecessor Donald Trump, who was the first president in decades not to visit sub-Saharan Africa.

But Biden has only gone on one international trip and has trimmed the number of visitors at the White House amid continued precautions against Covid-19.

Much of the Biden administration’s attention in Africa has turned to Ethiopia, a longtime US ally that has disappointed Washington with a nearly year-old offensive in the Tigray region.

Ethiopia launched the operation late last year in response to attacks on an army camp by the then ruling party in Tigray, where UN officials say that hundreds of thousands are facing severe hunger.

Kenyatta, speaking Tuesday after a UN Security Council meeting on Ethiopia, called for “an immediate cessation of hostilities by both sides.”

“We do not believe that there is a military solution, and we need to urgently have all parties coming across the table in order for us to be able to ensure that all humanitarian corridors are actually opened,” he told reporters.

“We will continue to push — not just as Kenya, as a neighbor and a member of the Security Council but also through the African Union.”

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