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Biden to meet with Kenyatta, first African leader to visit

By AFP
14 October 2021   |   4:24 am
US President Joe Biden is slated to meet Thursday with his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta, the first African leader invited to the White House under the current administration.

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 13: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about supply chain bottlenecks in the East Room the White House October 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. With the holiday season approaching, President Biden announced that the Port of Los Angeles will begin to operate 24 hours a day in efforts to relieve the backlog in the supply chain that delivers goods to the United States. Americans have seen delays in a host of consumer goods, including electronics, cars, lumber, toys and more. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Drew Angerer / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

US President Joe Biden is slated to meet Thursday with his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta, the first African leader invited to the White House under the current administration.

The two leaders will discuss “the strong US-Kenyan bilateral relationship and the need to bring transparency and accountability to domestic and international financial systems,” the White House said ahead of the meeting.

The agenda was published shortly after the release of the Pandora Papers, a journalistic investigation that exposed secret offshore accounts linked to politicians and businesspeople all over the world.

In the investigation, Kenyatta who has stated his intent to fight corruption — is said to own, together with six family members, a network of eleven offshore companies, one of which is valued at $30 million.

Asked about the revelations and how they might affect Biden’s meeting with Kenyatta, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “The president has been quite vocal as you all know about the inequalities in the international financial system.”

“That doesn’t mean we don’t meet with people you have disagreements on,” she said. “We have a range of interests in working with Kenya and working with them on issues in Africa, in the region, and that will be the primary focus.”

The two leaders will also talk about “efforts to defend democracy and human rights, advance peace and security, accelerate economic growth, and tackle climate change,” according to the White House Statement.

Another issue on the agenda is trade.

Former president Donald Trump’s administration had started discussions with Kenya on a free trade agreement but, according to Nairobi, Biden’s team so far hasn’t resumed the negotiations, causing much frustration.

“To our American friends, I would like to say that you know you cannot start and stop a discussion with partners on the basis of one administration after another,” Kenyatta said earlier this week in New York. “Relationships are between countries and people, not between administrations.”

Kenya is worried that a trade agreement that largely exempts its exports to the United States from customs duties will expire in 2025.

Washington, for its part, is concerned by the growing economic influence of major rival China in Africa.

But unlike Trump, who eagerly engaged in trade negotiations, Biden has so far shown restraint on that front.

For example, he gave no promises to Britain, which is also eager to sign a free trade agreement with the United States.

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