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White House unveils Kenya state dinner plans with performance by Brad Paisley

U.S. President Joe Biden welcomes President William Ruto of Kenya to the White House in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, as first lady Jill Biden revealed the menu and music for Thursday night's state dinner. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI
1 of 4 | U.S. President Joe Biden welcomes President William Ruto of Kenya to the White House in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, as first lady Jill Biden revealed the menu and music for Thursday night's state dinner. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

May 22 (UPI) -- As Kenyan President William Ruto arrived in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday for a state visit, the White House and first lady Jill Biden revealed plans for Thursday's state dinner.

"We mark the 60th anniversary of the United States' partnership with Kenya with an elegant dinner under the stars in a pavilion made almost entirely of glass looking at our one sky," the first lady told reporters Wednesday.

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The glass pavilion on the South Lawn of the White House will feature "warm pinks and reds," as well as unobstructed views of the White House and the Washington Monument.

The first lady also revealed that President Ruto and first lady Rachel Ruto will be entertained by country singer Brad Paisley, as well as the Howard Gospel Choir to "honor President and first lady Ruto's love of gospel and country music."

"As guests leave, their path illuminated by our one moon, I hope they will be filled with the same warmth that I felt on my visits to Kenya: that of a friendship that will endure helping create a shining and prosperous tomorrow," first lady Biden added, before introducing the White House chefs and Thursday's menu.

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The state dinner will begin with a cocktail hour outside of the pavilion, before guests head into dinner.

"The attention will turn from the sweeping views outside to the radiance of over 1,000 candles displayed along the walls framing a majestic view of the Washington Monument," said White House social secretary Carlos Elizondo, adding that the candlelight will "bounce off glass walls, mirrored tabletops" and a "hanging centerpiece created from 15,000 pieces of reflective metallic strips."

Elizondo said the dining tables will feature sequin lavender and floral patterned linens with gold flatware and china rimmed in gold. The floral arrangements will include roses and orchids to represent the United States and Kenya, along with peonies and ranunculi.

White House chefs followed with samples from the menu, which will start with a chilled tomato soup to "celebrate the start of summer." The green soup will be marinated with vitali onions, cucumber and white balsamic vinegar with produce from California and Ohio.

The main course will feature lobster poached in butter with marinated short ribs sitting on a bed of kale and roasted corn, along with corn puree, roasted turnips, sweet potatoes and squash.

A white chocolate basket dessert filled with a nectarine paste and banana ganache, topped with fresh raspberries and peaches, will round out the meal.

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Shortly after Wednesday's state dinner preview, President Joe Biden welcomed President Ruto to the White House before heading into a meeting with business leaders.

Kenya's president asked Biden when he planned to visit Africa.

"We're heading today to Africa," Biden replied, following up with, "I'm joking."

"Do you think you'll get there before January?" Ruto inquired, to which Biden retorted, "I plan on going in February, after I'm re-elected."

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