Nairobi – US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived on Sunday in Kenya to hold talks with leaders of the East African nation that are expected to focus on regional security and extremism.
Kerry’s plane touched down at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Sunday night, where he was welcomed by Foreign Affairs Minister Amina Mohamed. Presidential spokesperson Manoah Esipisu had said earlier that Kerry will hold discussions with President Uhuru Kenyatta on regional security and stability.
Esipisu says specific issues likely to be discussed include stabilizing northern neighbour South Sudan, which is dealing with a recent upheaval, and developments in Somalia and Burundi.
Somalia faces key parliamentary elections next month and a presidential election in October. A homegrown al-Qaeda-linked extremist group al-Shabaab continues to launch deadly attacks in the capital. The country has been trying to rebuild after establishing its first functioning central government since 1991.
Burundi has been in turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza won a third term that many in the opposition consider unconstitutional.
Kerry on Tuesday and Wednesday then visits Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation of about 160 million people and one of its largest economies.
He will meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on the oil-rich country’s worsening economy and its efforts to fight corruption. Kerry also will meet with leaders from the country’s largely Muslim north, where the extremist group Boko Haram continues to carry out attacks.
Boko Haram appears to be snarled in a power struggle after a new leader was announced by the Islamic State group earlier this month and the long-time leader protested.
Kerry then heads to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and Thursday for discussions on the conflict in neighbouring Yemen. The talks will include Saudi leaders, counterparts from Britain and in the regional Gulf Cooperation Council and the UN special envoy for Yemen.
A Saudi-led coalition has been fighting Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen, and rights groups and U.N. agencies say more than 9,000 people have been killed since Saudi-led airstrikes began in March 2015. The conflict has pushed the Arab world’s poorest nation to the brink of famine.