Biden explains US support for Kenya-led Haiti mission

US President Joe Biden speaks during a joint press conference with President William Ruto in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on May 23, 2024. President Biden announced that he intends to name Kenya as the first major non-NATO US ally in sub-Saharan Africa, as he welcomed Ruto for a landmark state visit. [AFP]

President Joe Biden explained why the United States is supporting, but not actively participating in the Haiti peacekeeping mission led by Kenya.

The explanation came during a joint press conference with Kenyan President William Ruto at the White House on Thursday, May 23. Ruto is on a state visit to the US.

Biden was responding to a journalist's question about why the US, having ended most of its historical conflicts including the war in Afghanistan, is advocating for Kenyan troops to be sent to Haiti.

The US President stated that the decision to avoid direct involvement in the Haiti mission is to prevent potential misinterpretation by adversaries.

Instead, the US will provide support in the form of intelligence, weapons, and other necessary resources.

“For the United States to deploy forces would raise questions that could be misrepresented by our enemies regarding our intentions. We have chosen to find partners to lead the mission while we offer support services,” Biden said.

“There will be no US forces on the ground, but we will supply Kenya with logistics, equipment, and intelligence support.”

Biden also noted that Congress will allocate $360 million for equipment, with the first phase already dispatched.

On his part, President Ruto was asked why he chose to send troops to Haiti while the banditry situation in Kenya's North Rift region remains unresolved.

Ruto emphasized his commitment to ensuring security and stability, referencing Kenya's missions in Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“I committed to addressing insecurity in the North Rift. Currently, there are 3,000 military officers and 2,000 police officers deployed there. We have renovated and reopened 20 schools, and the efforts are ongoing. We have made significant progress in ensuring security at home,” the Kenyan Head of State responded.

“We deployed 1,000 troops to the DRC a few years ago, and we have 5,000 troops in Somalia maintaining the fight against banditry. Haiti will not be an exception.”

President Ruto's visit to the US began earlier this week in Atlanta, Georgia, before he met with President Biden in Washington, DC.

He was thereafter on Thursday evening treated to a White House dinner, with guests including former US Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

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