WASHINGTON – President Biden will meet with Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday in the midst of a humanitarian disaster in neighboring Ethiopia that has prompted the United States to channel more resources toward the East African region.
Mr Biden’s first personal meeting with the leader of an African nation as president at the White House comes during a crucial time for Kenya, which is battling a raging dispute with Somalia over its maritime border, in South Sudan. A fragile peace and the diplomatic challenge of preventing an accelerated civil war and famine in northern Ethiopia.
The two presidents are expected to discuss the situation in the Tigre region in northern Ethiopia, where some fighters have been accused of atrocities against civilians, including sexual violence, genocide and ethnic cleansing. Last month, Ethiopia expelled several senior UN officials amid allegations that Ethiopian officials were halting aid delivery to the region, even as a catastrophic famine killed at least five million people. Help was needed during
The decision to expel UN officials was also seen as a rebuke for Mr Biden, who last month called for the issuance of broad sanctions against both the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments, as well as the Tigre People’s Liberation Front and the Amhara regional government. was threatened. Stop the escalating violence. But the administration has yet to execute financial penalties against the strategic ally.
In Mr Kenyatta, the current chairman of the UN Security Council, the Biden administration sees a partner in efforts to stop the ongoing violence.
“It’s likely to have a very crowded agenda because there are so many important regional issues,” said Michelle D. Gavin, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and former US ambassador to Botswana. “Kenya’s neighborhood is getting tougher and tougher, and it needs to be able to weather the storm not only in terms of its security issues, but to be a regional leader of sorts.”
Mr Biden and Mr Kenyatta are also expected to discuss the economy, climate change “and the need to bring transparency and accountability to the domestic and international financial systems”, according to a White House statement this week.
Discussions about finance could prove to be tense after the release this month of the Pandora Papers report, in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and media partners, including The Washington Post and The Guardian, which discussed offshore financial services. information exposed. Industry helped the rich hide their wealth. Mr Kenyatta, who campaigned on promises to reduce corruption, was among more than 330 current and former politicians involved in the report who benefited from offshore businesses and foundations that manage their assets.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday, “The president has had several diplomatic meetings with leaders where he shares the interests of the United States and his country, and there may be areas where there may be disagreements.” Is.” He didn’t think he would “back off.”
“We have many interests in working with Kenya and working with them on issues in Africa, the region, and this will be the primary focus of the meeting,” Ms. Saki said.
For Mr Kenyatta, the meeting will serve as an opportunity to strengthen ties with the United States as his country grapples with the economic turmoil of the coronavirus pandemic.
Kenya has also been deeply indebted after taking huge loans from China to pursue large infrastructure projects. Mr Biden has tended to focus his national security strategy on countering China’s growing economic influence.
Tensions are rising between Kenya and another neighbour, Somalia, after the United Nations’ top court sided with Somalia on a dispute to demarcate a disputed area in the oil and gas-rich Indian Ocean, a decision that deepened uncertainty. Given in the Horn of Africa.