July 21, 2024

Biden and Ruto Toast to Strong U.S.-Kenya Relations at White House State Dinner

In a symbolic evening underscoring the enduring ties between the United States and Kenya, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden hosted a State Dinner on the South Lawn of the White House on May 23, 2024. The event honored Kenyan President William Ruto and First Lady Rachel Ruto, marking the first state visit by an African leader in over 15 years.

President Biden’s Welcome

The evening began with President Biden expressing his delight at the presence of his distinguished guests. “The White House never looked this good,” Biden remarked to applause from the gathered attendees. He acknowledged the significance of the event, noting the presence of many members of the African diaspora, including former President Barack Obama, who had met with President Ruto earlier in the day.

Biden highlighted the shared history and values between the two nations. He referenced former President Jimmy Carter’s toast during the first state dinner for Kenyan leaders, where Carter had called the U.S. and Kenya “neighbors” united not by borders but by shared beliefs in freedom, democracy, dignity, and equality. “These are shared beliefs that give both our nations strength,” Biden emphasized.

Concluding his remarks, President Biden offered an Irish toast, symbolizing goodwill and unity: “May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warmly on your face, and may the rains fall softly on your fields. Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand. To Kenya. To our guests. Cheers.”

President Ruto’s Response

President Ruto responded with gratitude for the warm welcome and hospitality extended by the American people. “The openness, goodwill, authenticity, and generosity of the American people greatly enhances our appreciation of your achievements,” Ruto said. He praised the strong social, economic, security, technological, and people-to-people ties between the two nations.

Ruto highlighted the importance of the U.S.-Kenya partnership in promoting democracy, security, and prosperity. “We proudly take a firm stand, shoulder to shoulder, for democracy in a world where troubles have shaken the faith of many,” he stated, emphasizing the shared commitment to freedom and equality.

Reflecting on the achievements of the past 60 years, Ruto noted the positive impact on people’s lives, increased wealth and investment, and a more integrated and secure world. “What we have accomplished during my visit is nothing short of phenomenal,” he said. “As long as we hold our ground and stay the course, we will deliver to our people a world in which it is safe to dream, to work, and to prosper.”

President Ruto concluded with a toast to the continued well-being of President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, the security and prosperity of the American people, and the enduring friendship between Kenya and the United States. “To the President,” he declared, as glasses were raised in unison.

A Night of Unity and Shared Values

The State Dinner celebrated the strong and dynamic relationship between the United States and Kenya. It highlighted the shared values and mutual endeavors that have united the two nations for decades. The event served as a reminder of the importance of international partnerships in promoting democracy, security, and prosperity in an increasingly complex world.

The evening was a testament to the enduring bonds of friendship and cooperation, setting a hopeful tone for the future of U.S.-Kenya relations.

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