Posted by on October 14, 2021 4:01 pm
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White House defends Biden talks with Kenyan president after Pandora Papers leak

White House defends Biden talks with Kenyan president after Pandora Papers leak

Naomi Lim October 14, 03:00 PMOctober 14, 03:00 PM

The White House is defending “anti-corruption” President Joe Biden choosing to host Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for his first in-person Oval Office meeting with an African leader.

Biden will meet with foreign leaders who share U.S. interests because the discussions also provide him with an opportunity to express concerns, said senior administration aides Thursday.

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Kenyatta was outed in the Pandora Papers dump this month for holding roughly $30 million in secret offshore accounts with his family. In total, 330 current and former officials were caught up in the leak of 12 million documents and files to reporters around the world.

“The United States, through various departments and agencies on the ground and our embassy in Nairobi, have and will continue to build off of our current efforts with the Kenyans to bring additional transparency and accountability to domestic and international financial systems,” an administration aide said.

The pair’s conversation will be dominated by global and regional security topics, according to officials. Kenya neighbors both Ethiopia — where the government and Tigray military forces have clashed for almost a year, leading to famine-like conditions — and Somalia, which is home to Islamist insurgent group al Shabab. Kenya, too, is the current United Nations Security Council president.

“Kenyatta is very much a senior elder, an elder statesman, in the region,” an aide said when pressed on whether Kenyatta could exert any influence on Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. “He is a leader, and we think that his voice is important, an important voice that resonates broadly.”

Other agenda items will include “accelerating economic growth and tackling climate change,” advancing Biden’s January African Union Summit address and Build Back Better World platform, sources said.

Biden will also announce U.S. plans to donate more than 17 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to the African Union. The U.S. has already gifted 50 million doses to the organization, with Thursday’s donation meaning the U.S. has given away more than half the J&J shots it purchased for its own domestic vaccination program.

Biden offered an update on his White House’s COVID-19 response Thursday too, as only 57% of the public reports being fully vaccinated. The Biden administration has touted the effectiveness of its mandates, attributing a 20 percentage-point increase in people getting their shots to the policies despite them being in regulatory limbo.

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“Let’s be clear — vaccination requirements should not be another issue that divides us,” the president said.

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Originally appeared at Washington Examiner

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