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Biden, Kenya’s Ruto to discuss Kenyan debt relief this week

U.S. President Joe Biden will play host this week to Kenyan President William Ruto for wide-ranging talks expected to include debt relief for Kenya as well as the way forward for Haiti, Ukraine, Sudan and other areas.

Kenya has been grappling with acute liquidity challenges, and a senior administration official told Reuters on Monday that the United States is urging big creditor countries like China, Kenya’s biggest creditor, to offer debtor countries relief.

“We think it’s essential that responsible debtors provide reprieves for countries like Kenya, whether that’s by debt service suspensions or via new grant assistance,” the official said.

Washington is also urging international financial institutions to offer low-cost financing to Kenya and other countries.

The official said to expect some significant joint announcements about debt relief during the state visit this week “on how countries like Kenya can tackle this problem of debt.”

One of Washington’s objectives in scheduling a high-profile visit by the Kenyan leader is countering China’s rising influence in Africa.

U.S. Treasury Undersecretary Jay Shambaugh last month warned China and other countries that have lent extensively to low-income countries against free-riding by collecting debt service payments and curtailing follow-on loans.

The comments reflected growing frustration among Western countries and debtor nations about Beijing’s foot-dragging on debt restructuring efforts and the slow pace of debt relief deals.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks, at a celebration for Jewish American Heritage Month, in the Rose Garden at the White House, in Washington, U.S., May 20, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis
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By ANDREA SHALAL, TREVOR HUNNICUTT and STEVE HOLLAND

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