Kenya: Blinken, Omamo Discuss “Shared Priorities” On Regional Security

The US says Kenya could be helpful in bring stability to the Horn of Africa, especially in Ethiopia and South Sudan.

At a meeting on Friday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo discussed what they called “shared priorities” as far as regional security, health and climate change issues are concerned.

But in the Horn of Africa, the troubles in Ethiopia and South Sudan’s struggles to keep the peace were the focal points, according to a dispatch released to the media after the meeting at the State Department, Washington DC.

“[I] met with Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo to discuss leveraging the US-Kenya Strategic Partnership to advance health, security and the climate crisis, human rights and democracy, regional peace and security, and trade and investment,” Blinken tweeted on Friday.

Ned Price, the Spokesperson for the State Department, said the two leaders also “discussed the importance of Kenyan engagement on the ongoing crises in Ethiopia and South Sudan. “Secretary Blinken affirmed the United States’ commitment to maintain a strategic dialogue with Kenya.”

The crises

Ethiopia, which recently held its first national elections under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, is facing a continual conflict in Tigray region.

A unilateral ceasefire declared by Addis Ababa two weeks ago appeared all but broken this week as Amhara militia, allied to the Ethiopia National Defence Forces, clashed with the fighters under the Tigray Defence Forces.

The Tigray fighters had been claiming victories in major towns in spite of a ceasefire. Prime Minister Abiy on Wednesday vowed to “repel” any attacks by the TDF.

Ethiopia is also facing a border tiff with Sudan over a boundary that is yet to be demarcated, and Addis Ababa is also embroiled in a continual disagreement with Sudan and Egypt on how to fill the Grand Renaissance Dam over the Blue Nile.

Kenya says African Union capable of resolving Nile dam dispute

The US has in the past said Kenya’s current membership on the UN Security Council could help stabilise both the region and the continent in general.

CS Omamo on Thursday addressed the UN Security Council session on Libya, urging the continued cessation of hostilities.

“We both believe in the same principles, the same values of democracy, the idea that there is hope in every person, and that we can surmount our challenges through solidarity … especially in the aftermath of Covid-19,” she said after the meeting at the State Department on Friday.

The US will be sending some 1.7 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Kenya before the end of the month to boost an inoculation campaign that is now stuck at around 1.5 million, owing to dosage shortages.

Kenya also expects a batch of about 10 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines by August.

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