Biden, Kenya’s President Kenyatta, holds meetings at the White House

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta in Paris, France, October 1, 2020. REUTERS / Gonzalo Fuentes / File Photo

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden will receive Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for a meeting in Washington on Thursday as the White House weighs sanctions against parties to the conflict in a northern region of neighboring East Africa, Ethiopia.

The White House meeting will be Biden’s first president with an African leader.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement that the two would discuss “efforts to defend democracy and human rights, promote peace and security, accelerate economic growth and combat climate change.”

Kenya holds the rotating chairmanship of the UN Security Council this month. The United States and Kenya have long cooperated on economic and security initiatives, including counter-terrorism.

The Biden government is considering punitive measures over the worsening crisis in northern Ethiopia, where thousands have been killed and millions are in need of humanitarian aid.

The Ethiopian National Army launched a ground offensive against troops from the Tigray region on Monday, announced the ruling People’s Liberation Front of the Tigray Region (TPLF). Continue reading

In November 2020 fighting broke out between Ethiopian federal troops and forces loyal to the TPLF.

The conflict has left around 5.2 million people in Tigray – more than 90% of the population – and 1.7 million people in other regions dependent on food aid. The United Nations blames a government blockade for the worsening humanitarian situation. The government denies that it is blocking aid.

Last month, Biden signed an executive order paving the way for possible sanctions, including against the Ethiopian government and the TPLF, if they play a role in prolonging the conflict, obstructing humanitarian access or committing serious human rights violations.

The White House also said Biden and Kenyatta would “discuss the need to bring transparency and accountability into national and international financial systems.”

Kenyatta’s name appeared earlier this month in the “Pandora Papers,” which major news outlets identified as a secret repository of documents describing the efforts of many global leaders to hoard money in tax havens.

Kenyatta has not responded to the allegations but has announced that it will do so later.

Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt and Tyler Clifford; Editing by Chris Reese and Peter Cooney

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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