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Biden welcomes Kenyan president to the White House with focus on investments

US President Joe Biden welcomed Kenyan President William Ruto to the White House on Thursday (23) for a state visit, with both leaders promising a new era of partnership in technology and security.

Washington sees the visit as an important step toward deepening relations with African nations at a time when Washington's focus has been on the wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

“We may be divided by distance, but we are united by the same democratic values,” Biden said, noting that the two countries are celebrating 60 years of partnership.

“Today, as we begin the next decade of our partnership, we launch a new initiative to bring our country’s businesses and communities closer together,” he said.

Ruto responded: “Today, as we celebrate our past, we are optimistic about our future. By carrying out this state visit, we will have the opportunity to discuss and talk about building global partnerships and leadership.”

The Kenyan president arrived in the US on Monday (20) and visited Atlanta, Georgia, then spoke to business executives at the White House on Wednesday (22). This Thursday (23), he met privately with Biden in the Oval Office, before a joint press conference. During the evening, he will participate in a state dinner at the White House.

Ruto's trip is the first state visit by an African president to the White House since 2008. Successive US governments have said they wanted to offer a more sustainable and democratic alternative to relations with US rivals China and Russia, but have failed to establish real bonds.

Africa's political landscape was rocked last year by a series of military coups, wars and unstable elections that gave China and Russia greater influence. Biden hopes to strengthen ties with Kenya, seen as a democratic stronghold that can help stabilize the continent and advance U.S. interests.

The White House said Biden would also designate Kenya as a key non-NATO ally, the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to receive the designation. Currently, Qatar, Israel and 16 other countries share this designation.

Green energy and healthcare agreements

The leaders will announce new U.S.-backed investments in green energy and healthcare manufacturing, along with a detailed plan to cut Kenya's high debt burden, most of which is owed to China, the White House said.

The United States will announce $250 million in new investments in Kenya through the US International Development Finance Corp, including $180 million for a major affordable housing project, a US government official said in a statement. This will take the US finance institution's portfolio in Kenya to almost $1.1 billion. The corporation will also open an office in Kenya.

The two leaders will also jointly call on the international community to reduce the heavy debt burden of many developing countries and do more to support poor countries that want to invest in development and climate technologies.

The humanitarian crisis in Haiti will be another key focus. Kenya's plan to send 1,000 paramilitary officers to the Caribbean country as part of a UN-backed effort to curb gang violence and famine has been delayed, sources told Reuters.

This Wednesday (23), Biden told reporters that he plans to visit Africa in February after the US presidential election. An ad that assumes the Democratic president will defeat his Republican opponent Donald Trump. Biden had promised to take a trip to Africa sometime in 2023.

Ruto will be celebrated at a dinner lit by 1,000 candles and a menu of tomato soup, butter-poached lobster, smoked beef ribs and a white chocolate dessert.

Country singer Brad Paisley will headline the dinner along with the Howard University Gospel Choir, enjoyed by President Ruto.

Source: CNN Brasil

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