The two leaders are expected to discuss the situation in the region from Tigray, northern Ethiopia, where fighters have been accused of atrocities against civilians.
WASHINGTON - President Biden will meet with President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya on Thursday amid a humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in neighboring Ethiopia that has prompted the United States to invest more resources in the East Africa region.
Mr. Biden's first face-to-face meeting at House BLanche as president with the leader of an African nation comes at a crucial time for Kenya, which is grappling with a latent feud with Somalia over its maritime , a fragile peace in South Sudan and the diplomacy challenge to avert an accelerating civil war and famine in northern Ethiopia.
The two presidents are expected to discuss the situation in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, where some fighters have been accused of atrocities against civilians, including sexual violence, massacres and ethnic cleansing. Ethiopia last month expelled several senior United Nations officials amid accusations that Ethiopian officials were blocking aid deliveries to the region, even as at least five million people have need help during catastrophic famine.
The decisionto expel United Nations officials was also seen as a rebuke to Mr Biden, who last month threatened sweeping sanctions against the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments, as well as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray and the Amhara regional government, to stop the escalation of violence. But the administration has not yet applied financial sanctions against the strategic ally.
In Mr. Kenyatta, the current chairman of the United Nations Security Council, the Biden administration sees a partner in efforts to curb the ongoing violence.
"This could become a very important program. loaded because there are so many important regional issues to deal with, ”said Michelle D. Gavin, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and former US Ambassador to Botswana. "The district of Kenya is becoming more and moredifficult, and he must be able to not only weather the storm in terms of his own security concerns, but also be a kind of regional leader. "
Mr. Biden and Mr. Kenyatta are also expected to discuss the economy, climate change " and the need to bring transparency and accountability to national and international financial systems, "according to a statement from the House. White this week.
The discussion on finances may turn out to be tense following the release this month of the Pandora Papers report, a collaboration of the International Consortium of Investigative reporters and media partners which included The Washington Post and The Guardian, which exposed information on how the offshore financial services industry has helped the wealthy hide their assets. Mr. Kenyatta, who campaigned on promises to reduce corruption,was among more than 330 current and former politicians included in the report as benefiting from offshore companies and foundations managing its assets.
"The president has a series of diplomatic meetings with leaders where it has interests of the United States and their country, and may also have areas where there are disagreements, "said Jen Psaki, White House press secretary on Thursday , adding that she didn't think he would "hold back".
For Mr. Kenyatta, the meeting will be an opportunity to strengthen relations with the United States as his country suffers from the economic turmoil of the pandemic of coronavirus.
Kenya has alson not deeply in debt after borrowing heavily from China to pursue major infrastructure projects. Mr Biden has tried to make tackling China's growing economic influence a goal of his national security strategy.
Tensions are mounting between Kenya and another neighbor, Somalia, after the United Nations Supreme Court sided with Somalia over a dispute over how to demarcate a disputed area in the Indian Ocean, considered rich in oil and gas, a move that has increased uncertainty in the Horn of Africa.