WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta discussed financial transparency during their White House meeting on Thursday, as the East African leader faces investigations over revelations that he and his family hid offshore. Millions of dollars deposited in accounts.
Watch the meeting in the player above.
Kenyatta is one of more than 330 current and former politicians who have recently been identified as beneficiaries of secret accounts in reports known as the Pandora Papers. He and his relatives have some $30 million in offshore holdings, reports The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The union obtained millions of leaked documents detailing the hidden assets of prominent world leaders, politicians, corporate executives and celebrities. Kenyatta has denied wrongdoing.
Biden did not directly address the Pandora Papers revelations in a brief appearance with Kenyatta at the start of the Oval Office meeting, but said “financial transparency” was on the leaders’ agenda.
“Our countries share a deep commitment to fairness and respect and equality,” Biden said. “And I am committed to further enhancing our ties with Kenya and countries across Africa. But Kenya is important to this.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki noted that Biden has been vocal about what he sees as “inequalities” in the international financial system.
“That doesn’t mean we don’t meet people you disagree with,” Saki said. “We have many interests in working with Kenya and working with them on issues in Africa, the region, and that will be the primary focus.”
Biden announced at the start of his meeting with Kenyatta that the US would donate 17 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine to the African Union. Africa lags far behind the world when it comes to vaccinations: only nine African countries have met the World Health Organization’s target of vaccinating at least 10% of the population by the end of September.
The new donations to be made in the coming weeks are in addition to the 50 million doses already donated by the US to the African Union, a vaccine acquisition group backed by the African Union has already purchased 400 million J&J doses.
Kenyatta thanked Biden for helping Kenya and other African countries access the vaccine, and said further assistance from the international community would be “very welcome.”
Kenyatta’s visit also comes as a nearly year-long war in the Tigre region of northern Ethiopia continues in the region.
The United States is looking to Kenya, a longtime ally on counter-terrorism efforts in East Africa, to help ease conflict in neighboring Ethiopia, which has left the region vulnerable to man-made famine. Biden has threatened to impose sanctions against Ethiopian officials and others involved in the conflict if the fighting does not end soon.
Jim Risk of Idaho, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said a meeting with a strategic partner was “long overdue.” He called on Biden to address internal tensions in many parts of Kenya and the impact it will have on next year’s election.
Risk also said it is concerned about Kenya’s debt with China, which accounts for about a third of Kenya’s external debt servicing costs for 2021-22 and is its largest foreign creditor after the World Bank.
The meeting was Biden’s first face-to-face, in-person engagement as president with an African leader.
Editor’s note: Johnson & Johnson is a funder for PBS NewsHour.