Jill Biden meets with president of Namibia as she begins Africa trip

First lady Jill Biden, left, with Namibian President Hage Geingob, center, and Namibian first lady Monica Geingos
AP Photo/Dirk Heinrich
First lady Jill Biden, left, with Namibian President Hage Geingob, center, and Namibian first lady Monica Geingos, at State House in Windhoek, Namibia Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023.

First lady Jill Biden met with Namibian President Hage Geingob on Wednesday to kick off her five-day, two-country visit to Africa. 

“We wanted to come because this is a young democracy and we want to support democracies around the world,” Biden said ahead of the meeting.

Biden visited with Geingob and Namibian first lady Monica Geingos at the State House and after a photograph together, the three had a closed-door meeting.

Geingob asked Biden how her husband was ahead of the meeting and she replied, “He’s great. I will tell him you were asking for him.”

Her focus in Namibia is on the “role of young people in continuing to shape their democracy and advance health cooperation,” senior administration officials said on Tuesday. The last time a senior White House official visited Namibia was former Vice President Al Gore in 1996.

When she first landed in Namibia, she was greeted by Geingos at the airport. Biden and Geingos then visited Heroes’ Acre, an official war memorial of the Republic of Namibia, and the first lady laid a wreath to open her trip.

“We met each other in December and we just continued the relations,” Biden said about her relationship with Geingos later on Wednesday. 

“I think it’s safe to say we became good friends instantly. It was one of those things where you meet somebody and you connect and we work on the same issues. And that’s why it was important I continue my work and come and show support for Namibia,” she added.

Geingos noted that the trip is the first time a first lady has come Namibia and that it “is a very vibrant democracy.” 

“We have a very large youth population who drives that democracy- very energetic and it’s very enabled by our constitutional values of our leadership,” she said. 

Later on Wednesday, Biden will meet with Namibian Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah.

“This whole trip will be exciting and we have a lot to accomplish,” Biden said when she left the White House on Tuesday.

Her next stop is in Kenya, where she will “look at the impacts of drought on families and communities hardest hit,” officials said on Tuesday. In both Namibia and Kenya, the first lady will participate in engagements about women’s and youth empowerment, gender-based violence, as well as about sexual and reproductive health programs and HIV support.

Biden said before leaving that “it should be a really good trip.” Her granddaughter Naomi Biden joined her on the trip, which takes place while the president is in Poland until Wednesday evening.

The first lady, who will be in Africa until Sunday, is the third U.S. official to visit Africa this year after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield. The trip will be her sixth overall visit to the continent, including her first visit to Namibia and third visit to Kenya.

President Biden announced at the end of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in December that he will travel to sub-Saharan Africa in 2023. He said at the time that there will be other visits to Africa from officials, including his wife.

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