Biden Hosts Kenyan President as Russia, China Make Inroads in Africa

Kenyan President William Ruto arrived in Washington on May 22 for a three-day state visit. He is seeking U.S. support for infrastructure development and assistance with Kenya’s foreign debts, most of which are owed to the Chinese regime. Kenya has raised taxes to pay back billions in loans with high interest, but this has led to deadly protests.

President Joe Biden welcomed Kenyan President William Ruto to the White House on May 22 for the nation’s first state visit by an African leader since 2008.

Upon Mr. Ruto’s arrival, the pair briefly posed for photos outside before heading into a meeting with business leaders from both countries.

The roundtable discussion will focus on how the two nations can collaborate on technology and innovation. Other topics the two leaders are expected to address this week include debt relief and global peace and security.

Mr. Ruto’s four-day visit—which started in Atlanta on May 21—comes as Kenya prepares to lead a United Nations-backed security support mission to combat gang warfare in Haiti.

The East African nation postponed its deployment of 1,000 police officers for the initiative in March amid the resignation of former Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry. Those forces are slated to arrive in Haiti in the coming weeks and are expected to be bolstered by support from the Bahamas, Barbados, Benin, Chad, and Bangladesh.

Commenting on the security mission on May 22, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the United States is also “firmly committed” to supporting Kenya in its efforts. He added that the administration also appreciates Kenya’s “strong, principled, consistent stance” on Ukraine’s sovereignty amid its war with Russia.

“Through this visit, which will unfold through a series of events and culminate in a state dinner tomorrow night, we are demonstrating how, as President Biden has said himself, the United States is all-in on Africa and all-in with Africa,” Mr. Sullivan said.

“Most importantly, we are recognizing our rich history of partnership, friendship, and support for Kenya and focusing on our shared future.”

Encroaching Threats

Mr. Sullivan’s remarks hinted at a matter of increasing concern for U.S. leaders: Africa’s strengthening ties to Russia and China.

With U.S. officials’ attention turned toward Ukraine and the Middle East, both Russia and China have been busy making inroads in Africa, exploiting the unrest stirred by the rapid spread of terrorist groups across the continent.

Niger’s military junta, for example, has ended its security agreements with European partners and turned toward Russia for that purpose. The African nation is the world’s seventh-largest producer of uranium, which is used to create nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, China has poured billions of dollars into infrastructure projects in Africa as part of its Belt and Road Initiative while also expanding its military footprint in the region.

The increasing influence of China and Russia in Africa has worried Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), who traveled to Africa last year as part of a congressional delegation.

Mr. Panetta said in December 2023 that most post-coup nations in Africa had turned away from the United States and Europe because of a lack of engagement.

“They want American engagement, but, unfortunately, there wasn’t that economic engagement,” he said. “So, who did they go to? They went to the Chinese.”

President Biden had promised to visit Sub-Saharan Africa last year, but the trip never materialized.

During a press gaggle on May 21, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked what that says about the strength of the United States’ relationship with Africa.

Ms. Jean-Pierre replied that U.S.–African relations were “critical and important.”

“We sought out a state visit not only to recognize the strategic importance of our partnership with Kenya but also to forge new paths ahead as we tackle common global priorities,” she said, adding that the president would make that clear on May 23.

President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will host a state dinner for Mr. Ruto and his wife at the White House on May 23 to mark the 60th anniversary of the United States’ partnership with Kenya.

The event will feature a summer-inspired menu and performances from country music artist Brad Paisley and the Howard University Gospel Choir.

Andrew Thornebrooke, Darren Taylor, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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