Biden to elevate Kenya to ‘major non-NATO ally' as he hosts Ruto for state visit

'We're going to meet new challenges with more resources, and it's going to strengthen the security of our countries, and countries around the world,' says US president

09:24 - 24/05/2024 Friday
File photo
File photo

US President Joe Biden announced Thursday that he will elevate Kenya to a "major non-NATO ally," which will make it the first sub-Saharan African nation to receive the designation.

The move comes as Washington seeks to push back against growing Russian and Chinese influence in the region.

"I am proud to announce we're working with Congress to designate Kenya a major non-NATO ally," Biden said as he hosted Kenyan President William Ruto at the White House for a lavish state visit as they celebrate six decades of relations.

The US president pointed to Nairobi's assistance on America's national security priorities, including efforts to defeat the Daesh/ISIS terror group, as well as al-Shabab in East Africa, what Biden described as "mutual support" for Ukraine and ongoing efforts to deploy a Kenyan security force in the instability-wracked Caribbean island nation of Haiti.

"Our new global partnership is going to build on all this progress. We're going to meet new challenges with more resources, and it's going to strengthen the security of our countries, and countries around the world," he added.

Biden is required under US law to inform Congress of his intent to designate any foreign nation as a "major non-NATO ally." The label is used to designate a foreign nation with which the US has a robust security relationship, and confers military and economic benefits.

There are currently 18 major non-NATO allies, including Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, South Korea, Thailand and Tunisia. Taiwan is treated as such without the formal designation.

Speaking alongside Biden before an official state dinner later Thursday, Ruto said he believes "it is time the US, working with Kenya, deploys its capabilities, and rally like-minded democratic countries to set up the course for democracy."

"During our discussions, we agreed on the significant opportunity for the US to radically recalibrate its strategy and strengthen its support for Africa," said Ruto about closed-door talks with Biden in the Oval Office.

"As we take this historic step of elevating our partnership to be more effective in addressing global challenges, it is important for us to appreciate that many countries in Africa, including Kenya, are struggling with an overwhelming convergence of multiple shocks, including extreme climate events, debt distress, and the disruptive uplift of upheavals in Europe and the Middle East whose cumulative impact is to divert national resources from investment in people and economic growth into managing climate-induced crisis and servicing sovereign debt," he added.

In addition to bolstering global security efforts, a joint leaders statement released by the White House pointed to growing collaboration on a wide array of areas, including efforts to combat climate change, deepen trade and increase technological cooperation.

The meeting comes as Kenya prepares to deploy a police force to Haiti to lead international efforts to end that nation's long-standing political crisis in which gangs have grown to control wide swathes of the country.

The US has pledged $100 million in funding for the UN-led mission, and several other countries, including Canada, Jamaica and Senegal have expressed support for the initiative.

Haiti has been struggling with gang violence and political instability for years. The situation has worsened in recent months, with kidnappings, killings, armed robberies and other violent crimes becoming commonplace.

Haiti has called for international assistance to help restore order and security.

#Joe Biden
#William Ruto
1 month ago