Biden to discuss 'transparency' with Kenya president Kenyatta

US will also donate 17 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to African Union, Biden announces

US President Joe Biden, right, listens as Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, left, speaks during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. AP
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US President Joe Biden on Thursday said he would discuss “transparency” in international and domestic financial systems with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta during a meeting with the East African leader who is facing scrutiny over revelations that he and his family stashed millions of dollars in hidden offshore accounts.

Mr Kenyatta is one of more than 330 current and former politicians identified as beneficiaries of secret accounts revealed in recent reports known as the Pandora Papers.

He and his relatives have some $30 million in offshore holdings, according to reporting by The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Mr Kenyatta has denied wrongdoing.

Mr Biden did not directly address the Pandora Papers revelations in a brief appearance with Mr Kenyatta at the start of the meeting. But Mr Biden planned to address the “elephant in the room” with Kenyatta and senior Kenyan officials in private, according to a senior administration official who was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“Our nations share a deep commitment to fairness in... respect with equity and I’m committed to further elevating our ties with Kenya,” Mr Biden said.

Mr Biden announced at the start of his meeting with Kenyatta that the US will donate 17 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine to the African Union.

Only nine African countries met the World Health Organisation's goal of vaccinating at least 10 per cent of the population by the end of September.

Mr Kenyatta thanked Biden for helping Kenya and other African countries access the vaccine, and said further assistance from the international community would be “greatly welcomed".

"The United States has done its best to step up in terms of not only helping Kenya, but the African continent in general with regard to access to vaccines," Mr Kenyatta said.

The new donations are in addition to the 50 million doses already donated to the African Union by the US. A vaccine acquisition group backed by the African Union has already procured 400 million J&J doses.

Mr Kenyatta's visit also comes as a nearly yearlong war in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia continues to roil the region.

The US is looking to Kenya, long an ally on counterterrorism efforts in East Africa, to help wind down the conflict in neighbouring Ethiopia that has left the area gripped by human-made famine. Mr Biden has threatened to impose sanctions against Ethiopian officials and others involved in the conflict if the fighting doesn't wind down soon.

The meeting was Biden’s first one-on-one, in-person engagement as president with an African leader.

The presidents were also set to discuss democracy and human rights issues, as well as security, economic growth and climate change.

Updated: October 14, 2021, 10:02 PM