SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, hello, everyone, and it’s a real pleasure to be with Foreign Minister Mutua – our first opportunity to meet because you’re very new on the job, but hitting the ground running. And I have to say we are truly grateful for the partnership that we have with Kenya and the leadership that Kenya is showing, particularly when it comes to matters of peace and security. The agreement that was just reached between the Ethiopian Government and the TPLF would not have happened had it not been for Kenya’s leadership in bringing us to this point. Our own collaboration I couldn’t be more pleased with, but across the board we’re working together, as we have been over the last couple of years, to strengthen our bilateral relationship, to strengthen the work we’re doing together regionally and, indeed, the work that we’re doing globally, including at the United Nations and on the Security Council.
So I’m very pleased for this opportunity for us to compare notes on a number of very important issues. I would underscore not only the efforts on the cessation of hostilities in Ethiopia, but also work that we’re doing to strengthen trade and investment between our countries and to deal with the challenge of food insecurity, which is affecting so many people around the world, and particularly in Africa. There, so many other places, there’s very close collaboration – and I’ve also been very grateful for the leadership of President Ruto. We’ve spoken numerous times in the last few weeks on many of these issues, and I’m very pleased to follow up with Alfred today. So welcome.
FOREIGN MINISTER MUTUA: Thank you. Thank you very much. Well, first I – first of all, I want to say we are very grateful that we’ve been invited to this very (inaudible) forum. It’s very important that the G7 have seen it fitting for us to also participate, because what is happening in the world today concerns all of us. As is to (inaudible) chaos theory, flapped wings in one area —
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Yeah.
FOREIGN MINISTER MUTUA: — can cause a catastrophe – (laughter) – in another part of the world.
We’re very happy with the way we’ve been able to work with the United States of America. We are friends that go back a long way. And we’ve always walked the same path and we have collaborated in many things among our interests, especially bringing peace and stability in the Horn Africa. And our ability to do so would not have really matured the way it has without the support of the United States. And we appreciate what the U.S. has done and the continued efforts.
We do believe that, for us, all these – the crises we’re seeing, especially in parts of Africa, inasmuch as there are disagreements about land and others, they are also based on economics. And people are feeling disenfranchised so they feel like they will just get out – like, once again, in Ethiopia – and then we’ll be better off, we’ll rule ourselves. And the support that you see with the United States, that tactic of saying: okay, inasmuch as we are seeking peace, let’s also talk about economic – let’s grow the economies. Let’s grow the industrialization. Let people keep busy at work than sitting (inaudible) about the region and everything.
So we’re very happy with the – with what has happened in Ethiopia. We are looking forward to hosting further negotiations. We think this is just the beginning. We (inaudible) and we offer Nairobi as very centrally located, and to continue with the talks while bringing other partners also at – in Ethiopia’s (inaudible) so that we can be able to move in the same direction.
On the issues of climate change, as you rightly said, (inaudible) are being acted. We’ve got our old men and women who are – in short, they can’t believe what’s happening because rain has always fallen, indeed every month. Now months have come and gone without rainfall, and it’s gone year after year after year. So, anybody who doubted that there are climate change and impact now, you just take a look at the patterns that are (inaudible). We’ve been very much affected. And we thank the U.S. for coming in and supporting us. We had (inaudible) the other day, and really appreciate that. We don’t take that for granted because it’s something that is out of our hands.
The new administration of William Ruto has – is looking to strengthen our trade initiatives. In Kenya, we’re moving towards what the U.S. has been talking about for a long time: trade, not aid. And we want (inaudible) to trade. We’re very appreciative of AGOA and other initiatives. We’d like to have a bilateral agreement between Kenya and the United States. We are willing to work very hard and to trade together as partners, and that will grow both our economies and move our people and (inaudible) friendly. We get a lot of American tourists in Kenya.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Yeah.
FOREIGN MINISTER MUTUA: And I want to welcome you to visit Kenya. I don’t know if you’ve been there.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Yes, but always looking for an opportunity to go back. (Laughter.)
FOREIGN MINISTER MUTUA: (Inaudible.) It would be good for you to come back again.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER MUTUA: I know it’s been a while since you’ve been, so it would be nice to host you again —
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER MUTUA: — as we continue our initiative and other things that are happening.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you very much. Thanks, everyone.