Remarks by President Obama and President Kenyatta of Kenya Before Bilateral Meeting
Kenyan State House
2:50 P.M. EAT
PRESIDENT KENYATTA: Mr. President, once again, on a more formal basis, let me take this opportunity on behalf of my government, the people of the Republic of Kenya, to really warmly welcome you to Kenya on this visit that is alongside the GES meeting that we both just opened this morning, and to say that we’re all very excited and happy to have you here as the first U.S. President to visit Kenyan soil while in office; to say the people of Kenya are excited, to say that this is a very, very clear and strong indication of the solid relationship that has existed between our two countries, founded very strongly on deeply shared values, which we hope that this visit will further deepen as we continue with our deliberations.
The U.S. has been a very strong supporter of Kenya at the time of our independence. Our independence constitution is framed around principles and lessons learned from the U.S. Thurgood Marshall and others were very key in supporting Kenya at that time. And really, as I will say and I’ve stated before, you’ve also been a strong supporter of our move not only to secure and prosper our country, but also to deepen democracy, good governance, and trade between our two nations.
So I strongly believe that this is a great time and a great opportunity for us to move along those lines. Kenya, Africa as a whole, is at a great opportune time. Things are changing. This is a great opportunity for Africa to really leapfrog and really take root as a middle-income country, as you said earlier. Our middle class is growing. Our economy is stabilizing. Our devolution has managed to reach us to have a much more equitable basis for our growth and development, which is one of the major challenges that we’ve had in the past.
But at the same time, we recognize the various challenges that confront us, which I believe that, working together, we will be able to overcome and resolve. Key amongst those are the security issues related around the terror threat that faces Kenya — but not just faces Kenya, and the globe — and our strong belief that we will be able to deal with this. No single country can deal with this problem alone. We need to partner with the realization that it is a global threat that knows no boundaries. And ultimately, it is the close partnership we put together against all people of goodwill across all nations that will help us overcome this challenge. We are grateful for the support that we have continued to receive from your government in this fight, and we look forward to even further cooperation.
Cooperation in the fields of governance — again, this is a key area where we strongly believe that we can learn from your own examples and lessons to help us strengthen our own governance structures and institutions. Other areas also include trade. We, as Kenya, and indeed, as Africa, are grateful for the extension of AGOA. We believe that this is something that can go a long way towards further deepening our trade relations. We’re very happy to see an increased interest also in investment — American investment in Kenya. In the ICT sector, we’re working very closely in the health sector, in the urban transportation sector — these are some of the areas where we see a deepened partnership.
So I think with those brief introductory remarks, I’d like maybe just to introduce you to those who are on the table, starting with Anne Waiguru at the end there, who is our Cabinet Secretary for Devolution. And we have Judi Wakhungu, who is our Cabinet Secretary for Environment. We have General Nkaissery, Retired, who is our Cabinet Secretary for Interior. We have Amina Mohammed, our Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs. My able Deputy, Mr. William Ruto; our Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich for Finance at the Treasury; our Cabinet Secretary for Health — also currently standing in for Infrastructure; our Cabinet Secretary for Defense, Raychelle Omamo; our Cabinet Secretary for Commerce and Industrialization Ibrahim Mohammed.
And to really, once again, say it’s a great pleasure to have you here, Mr. President, and we hope you will enjoy your stay. And we look forward to fruitful deliberations and discussions with yourself and your team.
Welcome, Mr. President. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, Mr. President, thank you so much for the warm welcome. Thanks to your delegation and all those who put in so much time and effort in arranging our visit. I know it’s busy when I come to town — (laughter) — and I very much appreciate all the efforts that have been made. People could not have been more warm and more gracious. And most importantly, I think it promises to be a very productive meeting, because, obviously, the people of both Kenya and the United States, they want to see not only good feelings, but good outcomes. And I think we’ve done the preparations to make that happen.
I’ll be very brief — I know we’re going to have a press conference later. I’ll just say this. Kenya is on the move. One of the purposes of my trip is to once again remind my fellow countrymen that we take an interest in Africa because what happens in Africa is going to impact the world.
Some of the fastest-growing economies are in Africa. Some of our closest partners are in Africa. The challenges of terrorism are ones that have to be addressed, but the opportunities for growth and prosperity, and people-to-people exchanges, and tourism, and scientific and educational exchanges — those are the things that the people of Africa are most hungry for, and no place better exemplifies the possibilities and opportunities than Kenya, which has grown at an extraordinary pace over the last decade and has been able to make a transition away from ethnicity and division towards an increasing sense of national unity, which I think has contributed to this growth.
And we want to be partners in this process — not out of charity, but because we see opportunity. We think that enhanced trade, enhanced investment, enhanced cooperation in our security services — all those things will benefit Americans and help create American jobs, and help create growth and opportunity back home.
And the Global Entrepreneurship Summit that you have been hosting shows how hungry this next generation is for a new model of relations that is focused on the future and not just the past.
I am very excited about what we can accomplish together. And I think that this visit and these meetings will allow us to take the already strong relationship that we have between our two countries and really put in place concrete plans and timetables to get things done. And it’s just an added benefit for me that it happens to be also a place that I love and it gives me a chance to see old friends and make some new ones.
So, thank you so much for your hospitality. And we’ll see you guys at the press conference. (Laughter.)
3:00 P.M. EAT