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President William Ruto kicks off historic state visit to the US » Capital News

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 20 – President William Ruto has begun his state visit to the United States, starting with a packed program, including a speech on democracy at The Carter Center.

Ruto, who is accompanied by First Lady Racheal, and a host of other dignitaries, including Foreign Minister Musalia Mudavadi, arrived in Atlanta, Georgia, where he was welcomed by US dignitaries, including US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman.

President William Ruto and First Lady Racheal will be welcomed to the US at the start of a state visit on May 20, 2024. /PCS.

The chartered plane carrying the Kenyan leader and his entourage landed at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport at 5:30 PM Kenyan time (10:30 AM US time), where he was greeted with song and dance before being escorted to his hotel.

President William Ruto and First Lady Racheal will be welcomed to the US at the start of a state visit on May 20, 2024. /PCS.

Other cabinet secretaries accompanying the head of state on the state visit include Aden Duale of Defense and Susan Nakhumicha of Health.

The President is also accompanied by Governors Gladys Wanga of Homa Bay and Wavinya Ndeti of Machakos, among other dignitaries.

President Ruto’s first appearance was a lecture at The Carter Center where he spoke about democratic values ​​and anti-corruption efforts in his administration. His comments underscored the importance of democracies working together to tackle global challenges.

“This visit is historic as it is the first state visit by a Kenyan head of state in 20 years and the first by an African head of state since 2008,” State House spokesperson Hussein Mohamed said ahead of the visit.

President William Ruto and First Lady Racheal as they arrived in the US at the start of a state visit on May 20, 2024. /PCS.

The highlight of the president’s visit will be bilateral talks with his host, President Joe Biden, at the White House on Thursday.

Before this important meeting, the Kenyan leader will visit Ebenezer Baptist Church to honor the struggle for civil rights, emphasizing respect for the historic struggle for equality and justice.

The third meeting of the day will focus on the U.S.-Kenya Health Partnership at CDC Headquarters, where major announcements will be made, including a new CDC-KEMRI partnership.

Later, the President and First Lady will be received by Kenyans living in Atlanta, highlighting the role of the diaspora in national transformation. On the second day, President Ruto will visit Spelman College to discuss the critical role of higher education in strengthening human capital development in Kenya, which is crucial for attracting investment.

At Tyler Perry Studios, President Ruto will explore the opportunities within the creative economy, highlighting the sector as a key job creator. He will then visit Coca-Cola to announce new investment partnerships and launch VIVO’s first store in America, where he will showcase the power of Kenyan women entrepreneurs.

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The President will also meet with Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and the Atlanta CEOs Council to position Kenya as a regional manufacturing hub. On Wednesday, May 22, the President and First Lady will travel to Washington, DC, where they will be officially received with full ceremonial honors of state.

President William Ruto was welcomed to the US with song and dance at the start of a state visit on May 20, 2024. /PCS.

In Washington, President Ruto will work with a bipartisan congressional delegation, meet with the Black Congressional Caucus and hold talks with a bipartisan Senate Caucus. He will brief lawmakers on the challenges facing democracies in Africa and urge Congress to expand the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA).

President Ruto and the First Lady will lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery to honor American soldiers and historical figures who influenced Kenya’s history. He will then hold bilateral meetings with President Biden to discuss Kenya-US economic, health and security partnerships and regional developments.

The visit will conclude with a state dinner at the White House, celebrating the enduring friendship between Kenya and the United States. On Friday, May 24, President Ruto will participate in strategic meetings focused on trade, investment and digital cooperation, including a breakfast meeting at the US Chamber of Commerce and a digital roundtable hosted by Vice President Harris. The visit will conclude with a visit to the Pentagon to highlight the Kenya-US defense partnership.

Hussein Mohamed emphasized that the visit demonstrates the robust partnership between Kenya and the United States, which marks 60 years of strong diplomatic ties. During this period, Kenya and the United States have enjoyed deepening and mutually beneficial cooperation at the bilateral and multilateral levels, culminating in the elevation of the relationship to a strategic partnership in 2018.

This strategic partnership creates a framework for continued bilateral strategic dialogue between Kenya and the US, based on five key themes: economic prosperity, trade and investment; Defense cooperation; Democracy, governance and civil security; Multilateral and regional issues; and healthcare cooperation.

In pursuit of tangible results in these critical areas, President Ruto was kindly invited by US President Joe Biden. The visit, themed ‘Partnership for Prosperity’, aims to strengthen shared commitment to economic growth, democratic values ​​and peace and security, and reflects Kenya’s strategic importance to the US as a leading regional anchor and a major commercial gateway to East Africa.

US President Joe Biden (left) mentioned his Kenyan counterpart William Ruto (right). /FILE

The visit will build on the existing partnership to highlight shared values, including democratic governance, health partnerships and the promotion of the creative economy. It also focuses on security cooperation for peace, security and sustainable development, trade and investment for shared prosperity, and digital technology cooperation to promote innovation, progress and inclusivity.

Since December 2022, Kenya and the US have strengthened bilateral and multilateral engagement through participation in the US-Africa Summit, the Third Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in April 2023, the National Prayer Breakfast in February 2024, and roadshows in Chicago and New York. These engagements have led to increased investment by US technology companies in Kenya, including Microsoft, Google, Cisco, IBM, Kyosk and SunCulture.

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