President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Meets US Secretary of State and Other Lawmakers

Monday, 12th February 2007
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Photo Credit: Sando Moore/Daily Observer
Washington DC, USA - President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Tuesday held talks with United States Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, ahead of Tuesday’s formal opening of the Liberian Partnership Forum. The Liberian leader and US State Department official discussed among other issues, the debt problem, which continues to impede the country’s development agenda and the need for a speedy resolution of the issue.

According to a dispatch from Presidential Press Secretary, Cyrus Wleh Badio who is traveling with the President, the two officials also shared similar views on the need for Liberia’s partners to foster the speedy implementation of development programs. The US Secretary of State is expected to reinforce the issue when she addresses the opening session of the Liberian Partnership Forum on Tuesday.

Accompanied by House Deputy Speaker, Representative Togba Mulbah, Foreign Minister Ambassador George Wallace and Liberia’s ambassador to Washington, Charles Minor, President Johnson Sirleaf also held talks with Congressional leaders, including a leading member of the Committee on Health, Banking and Housing, Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed. The President also met and held discussions with the Former Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana. The Liberian leader urged the Congressmen to help galvanize support for an extension of US support for the Security Sector Reform, which runs the risk of being affected when funding runs out in March this year.

Congressman, Jesse Jackson, Jr., in an earlier Pre-Partners Forum interactive session on Monday, pledged to lead the campaign to seek additional funding for the security reform program, which he said is crucial to lasting peace and security in Liberia.

President Johnson Sirleaf who also met with the United States Under secretary of State, Jendayi Frazer and US ambassador to Liberia, Donald Booth, expressed the hope that concrete steps would be taken to address the debt issue.

In a related development, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has lauded the World Bank for its support toward Liberia’s recovery and reconstruction program. Addressing the Press following a meeting Monday with World Bank President, Paul Wolfowitz, the President thanked the bank for providing a pre-arrears clearance for Liberia, totaling US18-million dollars.  The provision by the World Bank, the President noted, has been made despite Liberia’s indebtedness to the bank and other bilateral and multilateral financial institutions. She described the gesture as extraordinary and a further manifestation of the Bank’s confidence in government’s program of financial discipline, transparency and accountability.

The President expressed the hope that financial institutions would put in place internal mechanisms through which a decision is evolved, leading to the cancellation of Liberia’s staggering US $ 3.7-billion dollars debt.

The President will also be meeting with other Congressional and US government officials in her drive to promote the country’s development agenda among US policy-makers.

The Chairman of the Foreign Appropriations sub-Committee, Senator Leahy; the Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Congressman Tom Lantos; as well as the Chairman of the House Sub-committee on Africa and Global Health, Congressman Donald Payne, are all expected to meet with the President later on Tuesday. A meeting with the influential Congressional Black Caucus is also planned.