US top diplomat Mike Pompeo calls Uhuru, offers support

Wednesday March 18 2020
pompeo

Trump speaks (right) with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as Vice President Mike Pence (centre) looks on during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, DC, on May 17, 2018. Mr Pence and Mr Pompeo have denied authoring the oped. AFP PHOTO | NICHOLAS KAMM

By KEVIN J. KELLEY

NEW YORK,

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has assured President Uhuru Kenyatta of the country's continued support for Kenya's security and economic development.

On Friday, Mr Pompeo and President Kenyatta also discussed “shared goals of countering terrorism, promoting regional security and ensuring good governance,” the State Department's spokeswoman said in a summary of a telephone call the top US diplomat made to the president.

The outreach by the recently installed secretary of state is intended to show that the Trump administration respects and values relations with Africa, a continent that the US president has previously derided in vulgar terms.

Mr Pompeo's overture to President Kenyatta follows his May 17 telephone call to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.

Friday's call echoed some of the same themes Mr Pompeo had sounded in his talk with Mr Buhari the previous day.

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The State Department said its leader has “thanked President Kenyatta for his leadership in calling for an important national conversation to move the country forward following the 2017 election.”

“They also discussed ways to work together to hasten the end of the conflict in South Sudan and ensure continued support for Amisom forces in Somalia,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert added in a written statement.

Kenya-US relations may be entering a time of transition as Ambassador Robert Godec prepares to end a sometimes controversial six-year tenure.

President Barack Obama's appointee as US envoy to Kenya is likely to be replaced in the coming weeks by Mr Trump's choice, Republican politician Kyle McCarter.

The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to hold a hearing soon on Mr McCarter's nomination. There appears to be no major obstacle to confirming the fluent Swahili speaker and Kenya charity director as Washington's next envoy to Nairobi.