Raila to meet top US State Dept official

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga is scheduled to hold talks in Washington on Tuesday with the second-highest-ranking State Department official, Kenya’s US Ambassador Elkanah Odembo has confirmed.

The meeting with Deputy Secretary of State William Burns signifies the Obama administration’s appreciation for Mr Odinga’s role in helping ensure a peaceful outcome of the March presidential election.

The Burns – Odinga session will also send a message of US willingness to engage with prominent Kenyan politicians who have not been charged with crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Secretary of State John Kerry, who will be out of town on Tuesday, asked Deputy Secretary Burns to meet with Mr Odinga, Ambassador Odembo said.

To underscore the Obama administration’s respect for Mr Odinga’s role in Kenya, the former prime minister is scheduled to attend a dinner on Tuesday evening hosted by Donald Yamamoto, the acting head of the State Department’s Africa Bureau.

Mr Odinga has also been invited to take part in a roundtable discussion on Tuesday organised by a grouping of US corporate executives with investment interests in Africa, Ambassador Odembo added.

The Orange Democratic Movement leader’s busy day also includes a presentation at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars.

Mr Odinga is to speak on the achievements and challenges Africa has faced in the 50 years since Kenya achieved independence.

He is also expected to visit the Library of Congress, which holds a large collection of historical documents from Kenya, Ambassador Odembo said.

On Monday, Mr Odinga is set to meet with the mayor of Philadelphia, the East Coast city where Mr Odinga and his wife, Ida Odinga, attended the university graduation of their daughter, Winnie, on Saturday.

She studied at Drexel University, where she read political science.

Mr Odinga is also scheduled to tour the National Constitution Centre in Philadelphia, the site of the US Constitutional Convention in 1787.-nation.co.ke

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