Kerry in Kenya for regional security talks
The two discussed regional security and terrorism before Kerry met with the foreign ministers of Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda for talks focusing on a faltering peace agreement in South Sudan and looming elections in Somalia.
A statement from the Kenyan presidency ahead of Kerry’s visit said discussions with Kenyatta would focus on “regional security and stability” including South Sudan where a civil war has been raging since December 2013, Somalia where elections are due next month, and Burundi in the throes of a political crisis since April 2015.
Terrorism would also be on the agenda, the statement said, as the threat from Somalia’s Shabaab militants continues to affect the region.
Kerry’s previous visit to Kenya in May 2015 paved the way for US President Barack Obama’s trip two months later.
The high-profile US diplomatic missions underline Kenya’s importance as a regional partner to the US, particularly on security, and demonstrate a thawing of relations that cooled while Kenyatta was under indictment by the International Criminal Court for alleged election-related crimes against humanity.
Kerry is expected to focus his attention on South Sudan and shoring up a year-old peace deal that has so far failed to end the conflict.
An outbreak of fresh fighting in the capital Juba last month led to the ousting of vice president Riek Machar as leader of the former rebels, threatening to return the country to all-out civil war.
The UN Security Council this month adopted a US proposal to send a 4,000 strong “protection force” to bolster the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan but repeated threats to impose an arms embargo have come to nothing.
Kerry is due to travel to Nigeria on Tuesday before leaving Africa for Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.