US President Donald J. Trump has spoken by phone with Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta for the first time since the US businessman took office last January. Here’s what we know about the call:
- The phone call on Tuesday was Trump’s fourth phone call with an African leader since taking office, following earlier calls with the presidents of Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa.
- The White House says the call focused on ways to boost bilateral trade and security cooperation including counter-terrorism.
- Trump expressed appreciation for Kenya’s “significant contributions to the African Union Mission in Somalia and recognized Kenyan troops’ sacrifices in the fight against al-Shabaab,” Trump’s office disclosed in statement.
- Kenya is a key ally in the US fight against Al-Shabaab in Somalia and a partner in counterterrorism efforts elsewhere.
- Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho recently visited the US capital to discuss counter-radicalization efforts with US officials. Another area of cooperation is counter-narcotics; two drug kingpins were recently extradited from Mombasa to the US.
- Kenya’s foreign policy has suffered several embarrassing recent setbacks including the loss of a bid for the AU chairmanship, defeat in a battle against Al-Shabaab in Somalia and the firing of a Kenyan general from the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan. Boosting US-Kenya relations may be a way for Kenyatta to shore up his foreign policy credentials in the lead-up to elections this August.