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President Joe Biden pledged to designate Kenya as a major non-NATO ally during Kenyan President William Ruto’s visit to the US. This designation marks Kenya as the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to receive such a status. The decision was described by Biden as a fulfilment of years of collaboration between the two countries in various areas such as counterterrorism operations and support for international initiatives like the UN Charter and aid efforts in Haiti.

A major non-NATO ally status signifies a deep strategic and security partnership with the US, even though the country is not a member of NATO. This designation does not involve mutual defence commitments in the event of an attack, but it does offer certain economic and military benefits. These benefits include access to military technologies that may be difficult for other countries to obtain from Washington, loans of materials and equipment for research, and the ability for US-owned War Reserve Stockpiles to be placed on the ally’s territory.

Currently, the US has designated 18 countries as major non-NATO allies, including countries like Australia, Japan, Israel, and South Korea. The US also treats Taiwan as an MNNA without formal designation, due to the one China policy. In 2016, India was designated as a Major Defense Partner, granting the country license-free access to military and dual-use equipment regulated by the US Department of Commerce.

During Ruto’s visit to the US, discussions between Biden and Ruto led to agreements to establish dialogue on artificial intelligence, support Somali antiterrorism efforts, and push for a ceasefire in Sudan. Both countries also committed to sending a Kenya-led police force to Haiti to help with the ongoing gang violence. A US-Kenya Climate and Clean Energy Industrial Partnership was launched, focusing on mobilizing investment in clean energy, and collaboration in healthcare was announced between the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kenya’s government.

In addition, Ruto attended a state dinner hosted by Biden, with guests including former President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and former President Barack Obama. The three-day visit marked significant developments in US-Kenya relations, with a focus on cooperation in various areas such as security, climate change, and healthcare. The major non-NATO ally designation for Kenya signifies a strengthening of the partnership between the two countries, with benefits in economic and military cooperation.

Overall, the visit highlighted the deepening ties between the US and Kenya, with a focus on mutual cooperation and support in various sectors. The major non-NATO ally status for Kenya marks an important milestone in the relationship between the two countries, offering benefits in economic and military collaboration. The visit also saw agreements on key issues like security, climate change, and healthcare, underscoring the commitment of both countries to working together towards common goals and initiatives.

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