WASHINGTON — Kenyan President William Ruto is on an official state visit to the United States in an effort to strengthen relations and cooperation between the two countries – the first visit from an African leader since 2008. U.S. President Joe Biden plans to designate the country as the first non-NATO ally in East Africa, joining 18 other countries including South Korea, Argentina and Israel.

A Kenyan-American woman holds the flags of Kenya and The United States of America as she waits for the arrival ceremony to begin. (Karishma Bhuiyan / MEDILL NEWS SERVICE)

In an effort to compete with China’s influence in Kenya, the U.S. has partnered with the country in an initiative to relieve debt in developing countries in Africa. Both leaders discussed investments, counter-terrorism efforts and technology innovation including semiconductors and artificial intelligence. Biden also mentioned he wants Kenya to be one of the first nations in Africa to receive funding from the CHIPS and Science Act.

U.S. President Joe Biden and The White House hosted a joint press conference for the official visit of President William Ruto of the Republic of Kenya. (Karishma Bhuiyan / MEDILL NEWS SERVICE)

Biden hopes to visit Africa sometime next year, depending on whether he is re-elected.

The White House ahead of the arrival ceremony. (Karishma Bhuiyan / MEDILL NEWS SERVICE)

“To further enhance our relationship, today we announce several initiatives that foster meaningful democratic reform, protect public health, expand our people-to-people connections, advance climate solutions, boost trade and investment, mitigate debt burdens in developing countries, accelerate digital innovation, and bolster global security.  As we look to the next six decades of the U.S.-Kenya relationship, we celebrate a partnership that is delivering for the people of the United States, Kenya, and beyond,” said a joint statement released by The White House.

President Biden giving opening remarks at The White House arrival ceremony for Kenya’s state visit. “And today, as we begin the next decade of our partnership, we’ve launched a new initiative to bring our countries, companies and communities closer together, because the past is our proof that we are stronger and the world is safer when Kenya and the United States work together,” says Biden. (Karishma Bhuiyan / MEDILL NEWS SERVICE)