Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III praised the close partnership between the U.S. and Kenya on a range of security issues as he met today with Kenyan Defense Minister Aden Bare Duale.
The two leaders held talks at the Pentagon just months after signing a framework for defense cooperation during Austin’s visit to Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, last year.
“Kenya is a key strategic partner in tackling a range of shared threats and advancing security in East Africa and beyond,” Austin said. Kenya’s support and partnership in the African Union transition mission in Somalia is critical to stability in the region.”
Austin noted Kenya’s partnership with the U.S. in countering al-Shabab, an Islamist militant group based in neighboring Somalia.
The militant group is responsible for multiple attacks in Nairobi, including a multiday attack on the Westgate shopping mall in which al-Shabab militants killed 67 people in 2013.
In 2019, gunmen associated with al-Shabab attacked the DusitD2 Hotel complex in Nairobi, killing at least 21 people. A U.S. citizen was among the dead.
The secretary also praised Kenya as a key partner on security challenges far beyond its borders, noting the country’s participation in the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.
He also noted Kenya’s participation in Operation Prosperity Guardian, an international maritime task force launched by the U.S. in December, in response to Houthi attacks against vessels operating in the Red Sea.
“We’ll keep working closely with Kenya to achieve our shared security goals,” Austin said. “Our partnership deepens our ability to deter threats and combat global terrorism and provide humanitarian assistance, when needed.
“The United States greatly values our strategic partnership with Kenya,” he said. “Your visit today shows the strength of our partnership, and we’re grateful for all that you’re doing for our shared security.”
Duale echoed Austin’s praise for the countries’ ties, pledging continued support for the U.S.-led initiatives in the Red Sea and in support of Ukraine.
“I look forward to continuing to strengthen our cooperation, which is important and fundamental—not only for addressing immediate security challenges, but also [for] shaping our long-term strategic alliance for the promotion of peace and stability,” he said.