Stage set for Kenyatta-Trump talks as advance team fine-tunes agenda

CS Juma is already in Washington/CFM NEWS

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 25 – The stage is set for the Monday White House meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his host Donald Trump.

An advance team which arrived in Washington DC on Wednesday was on Friday fine-tuning President Kenyatta’s agenda for his three-day official tour whose highlight will be the Monday summit with Trump.

Kenyatta’s first visit to the White House was during the US-Africa Leaders Summit in August 2014 when then President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle hosted him to a dinner alongside other African leaders.

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma and Principal Secretary in the State Department for Trade, Chris Kiptoo, were on Friday joined by Kenya’s envoy to the US, Robinson Githae, when they put final touches to the official visit announced by the White House on August 6.

The three met in Washington as President Kenyatta departed from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport minutes past midnight on Friday after being seen off by top government officials including Deputy President William Ruto and Chief of Defence Forces General Samson Mwathethe.

Other officials present were Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi and Governors Mike Sonko (Nairobi) and Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu).

CS Juma had on Thursday met her US counterpart Mike Pompeo at the State Department headquarters in Washington DC, the two holding closed-door talks that last forty-five minutes.

Prior to her meeting with Pompeo, Juma separately held talks with the Under Secretary for Defence, David Tranchtenberg; Trump’s Special Assistant and Senior Director for Africa, Cyril Sartor, and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Ambassador Tibor Nagy.

On Friday, CS Juma held talks with US Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, with whom she discussed US-Kenya trade relations.

During their engagement, the two agreed to explore avenues for the renewal of African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) framework in the next seven years and fast tracking talks into a post-AGOA Kenya’s strategic framework.

Juma also met Gil Kaplan, the Under Secretary of Commerce with whom she had deliberations on the Big Four Agenda.

Talks with Kalpan explored ways in which US companies can be involved in the four-fold development action plan of food security, affordable housing, manufacturing and universal healthcare.

In a separate engagement, CS Juma held a round-table on the South Sudan peace process with scholars from the United States Institute of Peace and later addressed students and faculty at the Elliot School of International Affairs on the country’s foreign policy priorities.

South Sudan is expected to feature in during the White House talks on Monday with President Kenyatta expected to brief Trump of the August 5 deal between President Salva Kiir and his former Vice President Riek Machar.

The United States, United Kingdom, and Norway had raised concerns over what they termed as substantial challenges that lay ahead of the implementation of the peace agreement.

The three nations said arrangements agreed upon in Khartoum were nonrealistic and unsustainable in a joint statement issued on August 10.

“Considerable challenges lie ahead, and we are concerned that the arrangements agreed to date are not realistic or sustainable. Given their past leadership failures, South Sudanese leaders will need to behave differently and demonstrate commitment to peace and good governance,” the joint statement read in part.

CS Juma had on August 15 told Capital FM News that Kenya was optimist of fresh polls in South Sudan at the end of the implementation of a new power-sharing deal between President Kiir and his former Vice President Machar expected to last three years.

She was confident that an eight-month pre-transition period will be concluded on schedule in order to pave way for the implementation of the Khartoum accord.

“The transition period is expected to last eight months after which the implementation of the agreement is supposed to take thirty-six months. If the talks in the pre-transition period end before eight months, it is envisaged that the thirty-six months will be pushed forward,” she said.

“It is envisaged that by the end of the thirty-six months we should be in a place to organize an election in South Sudan,” the CS explained at the time.

South Sudan’s Parliament has voted twice extending presidential and parliamentary terms by amending the transitional constitution adopted when the nation gained independence from Sudan in 2011.

The two motions effectively put on hold scheduled elections on July 9, 2015, and July 9, 2018.

JEREMIAH WAKAYA :