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Kenya president meets with US House Speaker during state visit

Kenya's President William Ruto, and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson   -  
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J. Scott Applewhite/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved


Kenya’s President William Ruto on Wednesday met with a bipartisan group of senators on Capitol Hill, as Nairobi prepares to deploy troops to Haiti as part of a United Nations-led intervention that aims to calm a spiralling security crisis in the Caribbean country.

His three-day official state visit to the United States is the first by an African leader in more than 15 years, and comes as Washington faces increasing competition from Russia and China across the African continent.

Republican Party Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, praised Kenya for its role in fighting extremism.

“We're really grateful for Kenya's partnership in opposing extremists around the world and, partnering together to oppose al-Shabaab and the jihadist and stand against the Houthis in the Red Sea and other places,” he said.

He added that the United States was “grateful” for Kenya’s assistance in trying to “keep stability” in Haiti and applauded Ruto’s “good work and leadership” with in his fight against corruption.

Ruto, for his part, highlighted what he described as “60 years of solid friendship” between the United States and Kenya, notably in the “space around peace and security”.

“I think we have common positions on working with different countries to see how to resolve challenges of security. For example, in the Horn of Africa, we have security challenges in Somalia,” he said.

The Kenya president said his country had been fighting the Islamist militant group for the past almost 20 years.

“Part of the conversation we are going to have, is on how we can make sure that the drawdown of army troops does not create a vacuum that will end up being filled by al-Shabab.

Ruto said there needed to be a “conditions-based” withdrawal of US troops in the region, rather than a “calendar-based” one.

During his meeting with Johnson, Ruto said he would use the visit in part to share his concerns about the challenges caused by heavy debt loads in Kenya and across Africa.

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