President Uhuru Kenyatta will on Thursday meet with his host, US counterpart, Joe Biden to discuss a range of subjects including financial transparency, security and human rights, the White House said on Tuesday.
The meeting, which will be the first time Biden is hosting an African President, will come on the backdrop of various crises; one touching on the Kenyan leader himself, as well as the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia.
Jen Psaki, the White House Press Secretary said the US leader will host the Kenyan counterpart at the White House in Washington to discuss issues around bilateral ties.
“The leaders will discuss the strong US-Kenyan bilateral relationship and the need to bring transparency and accountability to domestic and international financial systems,” she said in a statement.
“They will also discuss efforts to defend democracy and human rights, advance peace and security, accelerate economic growth, and tackle climate change.”
President Kenyatta who chaired, for the first time, an in-person UN Security Council meeting travelled abroad as claims emerged in the Pandora Papers of how his family had stashed abroad money estimated to be about Sh3 billion in offshore accounts. He promised to respond to the accusations when he returns later this week.
On the sidelines of the UN Security Council meeting though, he indicated that the revelations did not mention his name in particular nor imply criminal motive.
“My name, first and foremost is not there,” he told a media stake-out after the Council meeting on Tuesday in New York.
“And secondly there has been no mention of any illegality or wrongdoing on my part,” he added, promising, again, to give a “comprehensive” response later this week.
President Biden’s meeting, though, means President Kenyatta would have met three different US Presidents at the White House in his nine years in office. In February, Biden had phoned President Kenyatta, promising to continue US partnerships with Africa based on “principles of mutual respect and equality.”
Biden had not met an African leader, even at the UN, since he took power in January.
But this meeting also comes at a time the US has pressured Ethiopia to toe the line and start dialogue with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, a one-time ruling party now proscribed in Ethiopia.
Kenya which is a member of the Security Council until next year in December has said Ethiopia needs encouragement, not sanctions for parties to lay down arms, open humanitarian corridors and discuss the future.
Addis Ababa, however, has launched another aerial offensive on Tigray, worsening the security situation. Biden signed an executive order in September, authorising the imposition of sanctions on individuals who will spoil the peace. The sanctions have not yet been implemented.