US Secretary of Defence Lloyd J. Austin III met Kenya’s President William Ruto in Nairobi on Monday where the two countries signed a defence cooperation pact for the next five years.

Austin and Ruto also discussed the U.S.-Kenya bilateral defence relationship and a range of topics, including regional security and efforts in combating terrorism, the U.S. Defence Department said in a news release.

Austin also thanked Ruto for his country's willingness to lead the Multinational Security Support mission in Haiti at the invitation of Haiti and in response to the appeal by the UN Secretary-General, the statement said.

The US government pledged last week that it would work with Congress to provide $100 million in financing for the force to be led by Kenya. Ruto has agreed to send more than 1,000 police personnel to Haiti to help restore security.

Austin said he was grateful to Kenya for hosting US forces at Manda Bay along the Indian Ocean coastline and said the East African country had shown “regional leadership” noting the long-standing, strategic partnership between the two countries.

Kenya has been a US ally in the fight against insurgents in the region over the years, including the al-Shabaab militia in Somalia.

“Kenya takes pride in its frontline effort to combating radicalisation, terrorism and the associated criminality in the Horn of Africa,” Ruto posted on his account on X.

Secretary Austin also met with Cabinet Secretary of Defence Aden Duale to discuss Kenya's key role in countering al-Shabaab. The two leaders signed a new agreement to guide U.S.-Kenya defence cooperation over the next five years.

"Signing the framework for defence cooperation between our two countries today reinforces the importance of our strategic partnership with Kenya, and it will help guide our bilateral defence relationship for the next five years," Austin said according to the Defence Department statement.

Austin has visited Djibouti and Kenya and will also travel to Angola on his three-nation tour that began on Saturday and runs to Thursday as part of securing US regional interests in Africa.

(Editing by Seban Scaria