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Kenyan President in Washington for a State Visit, to What End?

Kenyan President William Ruto arrived in Washington yesterday for his state visit with President Joe Biden. Yesterday he met informally with Biden and with Congressional leaders and this evening attends a state dinner. In his briefing at the White House yesterday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan portrayed Kenya as one of the U.S.’s “closest strategic partners in Africa,” and a security partner who plays a crucial regional role. Ruto’s state visit, he said, is “emblematic” of the priority that Biden has placed on “our commitment to the people of Africa and to elevating their voices in global governance and global problem-solving.”

Biden’s commitment to Africa? Most U.S. policy toward that continent is focused on destabilizing nations and countering China’s and Russia’s cooperation programs with many governments to build infrastructure and help develop industrialized economies. Even though Biden never followed through on his promise to visit Africa, Sullivan portrayed him as thoroughly engaged, boasting that 24 senior U.S. government leaders had traveled to Africa since 2022. Kenya, “has worked side by side with the U.S. to tackle some of the most significant challenges of our time,” he said. Both sides are committed to deepening the partnership; ties are founded on “shared democratic values, economic aspiration and global interests.”

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