WASHINGTON– President Joe Biden plans to welcome Kenyan President William Ruto to the White House in May, making a state visit after reneging on his promise to visit Africa last year.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced Friday that the visit planned for May 23 will mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United States and Kenya and “will celebrate a partnership that benefits the people.” of both countries and at the same time affirms “our strategic partnership.” with Ruto’s country.

“It will strengthen our shared commitment to promote peace and security, expand our economic ties and stand united in defense of democratic values,” Jean-Pierre said in a statement. “Leaders will discuss ways to strengthen our cooperation in areas including people-to-people ties, trade and investment, technological innovation, climate and clean energy, health and security.”

News of Ruto’s visit comes after Haiti announced this week that it is working on an official agreement with Kenyan officials to secure the long-awaited deployment of Kenyan police forces there. Senior officials from both countries met recently in the United States for three days to draft a memorandum of understanding and set a deadline for the arrival of forces to Haiti from the East African country.

Jean-Pierre added Friday that, beyond Kenya, Rutto’s visit to Washington will “promote the vision” that “African leadership is essential to addressing global priorities.”

The White House also confirmed that both Ruto and Kenya’s first lady Rachel Ruto will be honored with a dinner. Biden hosted a state dinner to celebrate his close ally Australia in October, after the president skipped a stop in that country in early 2023 to focus on debt limit talks in Washington. But those festivities last fall were toned down somewhat given Israel’s ongoing war with Hamas.

Biden said in December 2022 that he would visit sub-Saharan Africa the following year, which would have made him the first US president to travel there in a decade. The president promised at the end of a US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington with 49 leaders, in which he suggested that the continent would be a strategic focus as the United States makes political and financial commitments.

But other priorities intervened in 2023. Biden made last-minute trips to Israel and Vietnam, as well as a secret trip to Ukraine. He ended up skipping a U.N. climate change conference in Dubai last year in December, sending Vice President Kamala Harris in her place, and never scheduled a trip to Africa.

Biden now seeks re-election in the November election while juggling a host of pressing foreign security issues, including the war between Israel and Hamas and the ongoing discussion in Congress over the foreign aid proposal for Ukraine amid its war with Russia.

On Friday he will travel to East Palestine, Ohio, marking months since he said he would visit the site of the derailment of a Norfolk Southern train that spilled a cocktail of dangerous chemicals and caught fire in February 2023.

By Sam