Secretary Antony J. Blinken Before Virtual Meeting with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta REMARKS TO THE PRESS
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Greetings. Good to see you.
PRESIDENT KENYATTA: Likewise, Mr. Secretary. How are you doing?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Very well, thank you. Thank you.
PRESIDENT KENYATTA: Wonderful to see you.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you very much for this virtual visit and virtual reception.
PRESIDENT KENYATTA: Thank you very much as well, and thank you for initiating this call, and for me, really, it’s just to say it’s a wonderful opportunity for us just to renew the wonderful relationship that exists between our two countries, our bilateral partnership, our partnership on a wide variety of multilateral issues, to really say how pleased I was to join you with President Biden and the – seeing America back on the scene again with regard to climate change. This is a wonderful thing, taking your leadership position back. I think it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s something that’s great for us, who are sufferers, let me say, of the devastating challenges that have been posed by climate change.
And it’s really wonderful to see yourselves back, truly grateful of our continued partnership on defense, looking forward to continue the ongoing discussions with regard our FTA, looking forward to also in this very difficult moment working together with you with regard to our COVID response and to seeing how America can once again take her leadership and really help our developing nations that, if we don’t take great care, are likely also to bear the biggest brunt of this COVID challenge. As is said, we’re not going to deal with COVID until we all deal with COVID, and we need to really just get to it and say how we are all going to be able to pull together and make sure that we overcome this crisis and get our world back to order.
I also, as an opening line, just to say that I’m really looking forward to working closely with yourselves on our regional issues, which I don’t need to delve into detail at this particular moment, but you’re fully aware that our region right now is quite unstable. And again, we look forward to your friendship, to your partnership, to working together towards stabilizing the Horn and our East African and Central African region altogether.
So once again, it’s our first opportunity to really engage with one another. I’m looking forward to working very closely with you and your team, and I’m really hopeful that we’ll be able to do some great things together.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, Mr. President, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to meet today, to host us virtually. I have very strong memories of spending time in Kenya actually many years ago with my family, but then more recently with both then-Vice President Biden and also President Obama. And it’s particularly good to be reconnected to you today.
I think given the breadth and depth of the partnership, it was especially important for me to be able to visit virtually on this first trip to Africa as Secretary of State, and indeed, I’m looking forward to discussing with you and your team the issues that you put on the table and a number of others, and I really thank all of the members of the Kenyan delegation for joining us as well today. It would be better if we could do this in person. I look forward to the day that we can, but for now, this is at least an important opportunity early in our administration for us to compare notes and to try to move forward on the important work we’re doing together.
And to your point, Mr. President, it was terrific to have your participation in the climate summit that President Biden convened, one of the number of global challenges that we know we have to tackle together. COVID-19 being the other, I could not agree with you more that none of us will be fully safe until everyone is, and I look forward to discussing that and to looking at ways we can make our cooperation even more effective.
I think we both see challenges but also opportunities to, as President Biden puts it, build back better from the pandemic: creating quality, good-paying green jobs for our citizens; improving the global health infrastructure so that not only do we get through COVID-19 but we make sure we’re doing everything possible to prevent or mitigate the next outbreak. And as strategic partners, to your point, we – I think we have a shared vision for our cooperation that we now need to move out on and make good on in the coming years. And that’s building on what is already a very strong foundation in confronting common threats, including terrorism; but also seizing some of the opportunities that are out there, expanding trade and investment, grounded in the shared values of democracy and human rights that bring us together.
We’ve got the Bilateral Strategic Dialogue, and through that, our governments are regularly reviewing progress on joint goals, on economic prosperity, on defense cooperation, on democracy and human rights and governance, on regional and multilateral cooperation, on public health.
So we’ve got a very strong agenda for the Bilateral Strategic Dialogue, very much looking forward to pursuing that, but meanwhile, for today, thank you for hosting us, and I look forward to a good conversation. I think we’re going to take a brief pause and then we’ll be back momentarily to start the conversation. Thank you.
PRESIDENT KENYATTA: Fantastic. Thank you very much.