Gov. Biden’s Secretary of State arrived Tuesday evening for a state visit to Kenya. The one in Kenya was the first stop and is part of a program that includes meetings in various African countries. Accompanied by the Kenyan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rachelle Omamo, the Secretary of State held a meeting with representatives of civil society and the Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta. This visit goes to further strengthen the relationship between the two countries, which is already strong especially due to Kenya’s important geo-strategic role in that quadrant, given also Kenyatta’s recent visit to the US.
The focus of this two-day visit was the conflict in Ethiopia, which has been seeing an escalation in recent times after President Kenyatta recently returned from a visit to Addis Ababa. Both representatives agreed that a peaceful solution should be sought in the confrontation between the Ethiopian Defense Forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.
The situation in Ethiopia then prompted a discussion on security and counter-terrorism, with a shared need for intelligence collaboration in light of the recent attacks in Kampala and London. On the security front, Blinken expressed his concern for the difficulties that democracies are experiencing globally, and especially in that region. In this regard, he warned the Kenyan representatives about the need to ensure a fair and free democratic process in view of the elections in August 2022.
Other issues, which had already emerged from the bilateral meeting between Biden and Kenyatta a few weeks ago, concern climate and pandemic management. In the wake of COP26, Blinken congratulated Kenya on the important efforts it has been making recently on ecological transition and green economy, admitting that the U.S. would be interested in investments in this area in the area.
On pandemic management, Kenyatta, after thanking the U.S. for its continued economic effort in supporting the country, called for Kenya to become a vaccine production and sorting hub in the area, not hiding resentment at the way the first world is treating poorer countries on vaccine issues.
After this two-day visit, the secretary of state is expected to continue on to two other African countries in Sale, Senegal and Nigeria.