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Secretary Antony J. Blinken Remarks at Bilateral Strategic Dialogue with Kenyan Cabinet Secretary of Foreign Affairs Raychelle Omamo

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Nairobi, Kenya

Serena Hotel

FOREIGN SECRETARY OMAMO:  Well, may I begin by just extending to you again another warm welcome to Kenya.  We are so delighted to host you on your maiden visit to Africa in your capacity as Secretary of State.  We’re really greatly honored that you chose to start here, and I think that is an affirmation of the depth and the scope of the relationship that Kenya and the United States of America enjoy.

We are delighted that you have just been able to hold a meeting with His Excellency President Kenyatta and that you’ve discussed a variety of issues.  This meeting that we are going to hold will be more focused on our bilateral Strategic Dialogue and the pillars that hold up that dialogue.  It’s essential to us as a country that we continue to move forward on that agenda, to renew it, to reinvigorate it, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 challenge and the climate change challenge that we are all experiencing.

So we hope that your visit to Kenya will be a signal of the way forward for U.S.-Kenyan relationships and U.S.-Africa relationship.  There are important signposts to erect so that the whole world knows that the U.S. is indeed back, is indeed back and interested in the advancement of our continent, in the advancement of our peace and our prosperity, and in investment of the U.S. in our people.  So we look forward to the discussions that we will have with you in the next half hour or so, and we trust that this will now open the gates for further relationships to be established and for deeper consultation between our respective ministries.

I would like, before I give you the floor, just to introduce again the Kenyan delegation.  I have with me Principal Secretary Ambassador Kamau Macharia.  I also have in our delegation Dr. Kimani, Ambassador Dr. Kimani, who is our PR in New York; Ambassador Amayo, who is our ambassador to Washington; Ambassador Salim, who is our director general of multilateral affairs; Ambassador Nzusi, who is our director of America; and then our officer, Mr. Afande, who will be taking notes in the meeting.  So Karibu Sana, welcome, and you have the floor.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you so much, and it’s really wonderful to be here, wonderful to be with you.  We’ve had the opportunity to see each other at different international meetings, on the – on video screen, by phone, but nothing replaces actually being here – I was going to say face to face, at least mask to mask.  (Laughter.)  So – and to your point, it really is no accident that I have the great honor of making this my first stop in Africa in my capacity as Secretary of State.  It is a testament to the importance that the United States, President Biden attaches to the partnership between Kenya and the United States, a partnership that we will continue to deepen and strengthen, including with the work that we’re doing together with the resumption of our Strategic Dialogue.  We’re very, very pleased with that.

And I was also very honored to have so much time with President Kenyatta.  We covered a tremendous amount of ground, and that too is a reflection of the breadth and depth of the relationship, the many issues that we’re working together.  And in so many ways, I think what we’ve seen is a relationship that is stronger and stronger on a bilateral basis, but also regionally where we’re doing so much work together, and around the world, including on climate where the example that Kenya has set is a very powerful one, particularly with your use of renewables to produce so much of your energy.  And so on all of the issues that we have before – we, like you, are committed to deepening the work that we’re doing together.

The bottom line for the United States is as we’re looking at the things that we’re trying to help advance around the world, we know we cannot do it without Africa and that means we cannot do it without Kenya.  And whether it is our common struggle against COVID-19, whether it’s our common fight to save our environment, save our planet, combating climate change, whether it’s building truly inclusive economic growth for all of our citizens, we have to do this hand in hand.  And beyond that, as two strong, vibrant democracies at a time when democracies are under some challenge, I think the example that both of us set is more important than ever.

So in all of these areas and more, it’s a pleasure to be here, and very happy to get down to work. Now, my team, I think you know most of them.  You certainly know this gentleman, Eric Kneedler, our charge d’affaires; Suzy George, the chief of staff of the State Department; Ned Price, the spokesperson for the State Department; and I think you may also know Gayle Smith, known to a few people here, who has been leading our international efforts on COVID, and we’re very, very grateful for that; Molly Phee, the assistant secretary of state for Africa; Tom Sullivan, who is a deputy chief of staff at the State Department; and Dana Banks, who is the lead on Africa at the White House National Security Council.  So thank you for having all of us.

FOREIGN SECRETARY OMAMO:  Thank you very, very much.

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