With war and a humanitarian crisis still raging across Ethiopia, the White House has announced that U.S. President Joe Biden will host Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in an attempt to lay out a political solution to the situation.
The meeting on Thursday at the White House will be Biden’s first one-on-one, in-person talks as president. In a statement, Jen Psaki, the White House spokesperson, said the leaders would discuss “efforts to defend human rights and democracy, advance peace and security, tackle climate change, and accelerate economic growth.”
The Oval Office talks come days after Biden signed an executive order warning to levy actions against Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and other leaders involved in a conflict gripping the Tigray region if measures aren’t taken soon to end the 11-month-old war.
Kenya has a long-standing partnership with the U.S., and together the two countries have made great strides in combating Islamic terrorism. As opposed to almost all other African nations, Kenya has not been afraid of expressing its concerns about the war in Ethiopia.
The war between the Ethiopian government and forces in the Tigray region escalated recently when Tigray forces claimed the government was responsible for launching a long-threatened military offensive against them to end the war. According to Bloomberg, a statement from the Tigray office of external affairs alleged that hundreds and thousands of Ethiopian fighters descended on several fronts in a coordinated assault.
Kenyan President Kenyatta told reporters at the United Nations earlier this week, “The two sides need to come to a political resolution because we do not believe that there is any military solution.”
Biden plans to strive for a dramatic shift on the ground during his meeting with Kenyatta. The United Nations have already warned that people are forced to live in conditions where famine and pestilence are commonplace as the conflict festers.
In an official statement, Biden announced, “The ongoing conflict in northern Ethiopia is a tragedy causing immense human suffering and threatens the unity of the Ethiopian state. Nearly one million people are living in famine-like conditions. Humanitarian workers have been blocked, harassed, and killed. I am appalled by mass murder, rape, and other sexual violence reports. The U.S. is determined to push for a peaceful resolution of this conflict.”