APTOPIX Biden US Kenya

President Biden, center right, and Kenya’s President William Ruto, center left, along with Kenya’s first lady Rachel Ruto, left, and first lady Jill Biden, right, wave after a State Arrival Ceremony Thursday, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

Gov. Janet Mills was invited to attend a state dinner at the White House Thursday night in honor of the president of Kenya.

Mills was invited by President Biden and first lady Jill Biden to the South Lawn event, which will also be attended by Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, according to her aides.

The state visit and dinner with Kenyan President William Ruto and his wife, Rachel Ruto, marks the 60th year of U.S.-Kenya partnership and celebrates deepening ties between the countries, according to a fact sheet released by the White House.

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Gov. Janet Mills on Jan. 30, at the State House in Augusta. Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press, file

Officials plan to celebrate progress on a wide variety of issues, including democracy, human rights, climate solutions, trade and investment, and peace and security cooperation. The U.S. has programed $40 million for democracy, human rights and governance, in part to strengthen election integrity and increase participation and leadership among women, and to counter gender-based violence and harassment.

“Our countries endeavor to guard against the erosion of political checks and balances, counter misinformation and disinformation, mitigate hate-fueled violence targeting members of vulnerable communities, and tackle corruption by building transparent and accountable governance systems,” White House officials said.

The visit – the first in 20 years – comes as Russia and China have been expanding their influence on the African continent.


“The State Visit highlights new areas of cooperation to safeguard rights and freedoms in the face of rising authoritarianism, expand avenues for dialogue, and elevate our shared global commitment to protecting democracy,” White House officials said.

Mills, who is one of 12 female governors in the U.S. and the first in Maine history, is expected to return home Friday.

Lobster will be on the menu.

Dinner will consist of a first course of chilled tomato soup, marinated with Vidalia onions, cucumbers and white balsamic vinegar. That will be followed by the main course of lobster poached in butter and marinated, slightly smoked short ribs served on a blend of kale, corn, roasted turnips, sweet potato and squash. Dessert consists of a homemade white chocolate basket filled with nectarine paste and banana ganache and topped with fresh raspberries and peaches.

Invitees included actor LeVar Burton of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” fame, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, the ex-secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, and her former top aide Huma Abedin, according to The Associated Press.

Also among the invitees was singer-songwriter Don McLean, of ‘American Pie’ fame and formerly of Camden, Maine, who was convicted of domestic violence criminal threatening against his former wife, Patrisha McLean, in 2016.

Jill Biden described it as “an elegant dinner under the stars in a pavilion made almost entirely of glass looking up at our one sky.”

The event will also feature performances by the Howard Gospel Choir and Brad Paisley. Rutos happens to be a fan of gospel and country music.

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