The meeting with Kenyatta will be Biden’s first face-to-face and face-to-face meeting with an African leader since becoming President of the United States.
US President Joe Biden is due to meet with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta as war and a humanitarian crisis rock neighboring Ethiopia.
Thursday’s meeting will be Biden’s first one-on-one meeting as president with an African leader.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement that leaders would discuss “efforts to defend democracy and human rights, advance peace and security, accelerate economic growth and fight against climate change “.
The Oval Office talks come weeks after Biden signed an executive decree threatening to impose sanctions on Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and other leaders involved in a conflict in the Tigray region if action is not taken quickly to end the 11-month war.
But the situation appears to have only deteriorated on the ground, with Tigray forces claiming that the Ethiopian government has launched a large military offensive against them long ago in an attempt to end the war.
A statement from Tigray’s external affairs office earlier this week alleged that hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian “regular and irregular fighters” had launched a coordinated assault on multiple fronts.
Kenya, which shares a border with Ethiopia, has a long-standing close relationship with the United States, partnering with Washington in its efforts to thwart armed attacks. He has also been relatively loud among African nations about the war in Ethiopia.
Kenya assumes the presidency of the UN Security Council for the month of October. Kenyatta arrived in New York on Sunday to chair a debate in the Council.
Speaking to reporters at the UN on Tuesday, Kenyatta said the two sides in Ethiopia must reach “a political resolution because we don’t believe there is a military solution.”
The Biden administration is conducting an interagency review as it considers targets for possible sanctions.
The review aims, in part, to ensure that all agencies “fully agree” to the proposed targets, according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
The Biden administration has said it will move quickly on sanctions if there is no drastic change on the ground.
The UN has warned that hundreds of thousands of people live in conditions of man-made famine as the conflict escalates.
With the Ethiopian government rejecting international “interference” in its affairs, the focus has recently been on finding an African solution to the crisis that has claimed thousands of lives.
The White House also said Biden and Kenyatta would discuss “the need to bring transparency and accountability to national and international financial systems.”
The meeting comes as the Kenyan leader has come under scrutiny of his offshore assets and those of his family discovered in the Pandora Papers.
Kenyatta is one of more than 330 current and former politicians identified as owners of secret accounts exposed in a recent report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
The ICIJ found that while Kenyatta publicly campaigned against corruption, his family hid around $ 30 million in offshore wealth.
The Pandora Papers revelations are expected to be discussed at the Oval Office meeting, the administration official said.